While Dubai is leading the way in terms of legislating for expat healthcare in the Gulf, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and others are watching and learning – that’s according to Jelf International’s director of international services, Doug Rice. He believes the pace of change in the Gulf states will continue and that some level of unified healthcare system will be introduced across the region.
Rice said: “We’re finding that expats no longer finish an agreed contract and return home – there is a growing trend to move to the area for the longer term. This may mean moving to a different Gulf state, which can be time consuming and expensive in terms of arranging healthcare provision.
“A more universal healthcare system in the region would not only benefit the states involved as they would have more immediate access to a ready workforce but employers would also be able to access healthcare provision that meets legislative criteria across all of the emirates, saving both time and money.”
For a number of years, the Gulf states were groaning under the weight of their booming expat populations and the associated healthcare implications of that Western and Asian influx. To relieve the strain, each individual state introduced its own requirements, which have left the area with a patchwork of healthcare rules.
Rice concluded:“There has been no official announcement or timescale made public but this does seem to be the latest thinking in the area and the end result would be quite significant for UK employers and employees. However, we’ve already seen Qatar delay on its new healthcare regulations, so while there is a feeling that a general consensus would be wise, achieving that may take a little longer.”