Kuwait has a state funded healthcare system, which provides treatment without charge to all Kuwaiti nationals. A public insurance scheme exists to provide reduced cost healthcare to non-citizens. Private healthcare providers also run medical facilities in the country, available to members of their insurance schemes.
Due to the small number of residents living in Kuwait, and the vast number of medical facilities available in both the private and public sectors, there are virtually no waiting lists for anyone wishing to see a doctor. However, for specialized procedures, it may be necessary to explore medical treatment outside Kuwait. Many locals do this.
Ruling family members, as well as rich Arabs, regularly chose to have all major operations outside Kuwait, mostly in European cities such as London and American cities like Los Angeles or Chicago. While some of Kuwait's medical staff is Kuwaiti, an overwhelming majority is from outside the country, well trained and qualified. What makes Kuwait so attractive for most foreign medical staff is the same as for most other expatriates: a chance to make a substantial amount of money in a short period of time.
The Ministry of Health is charged with ensuring doctors are uniquely qualified to practice medicine. Every doctor has his/her qualifications verified by the Ministry before being allowed to practice in the region. Kuwait's doctors come from outside the country, primarily from Europe, USA, Egypt, India and even Pakistan. Nearly all embassies keep some information on their nationals who practice medicine in the region.
Nearly every doctor in Kuwait, regardless of nationality or specialty, speaks English. Many are fluent in English, as well as Arabic and other languages native to their country of origin. Finding a doctor who speaks your language is easy.
Alternative medicine practitioners are less common in Kuwait as they are in Europe and USA, and you should check that they've been given state registration before seeking their services.
Fields of medicine in Kuwait:
There's an abundance of doctors specializing in nearly every field of medicine. Finding a doctor is quite easy. Most are listed in daily newspapers such as Al-Watan Daily or found on the websites of both public and private hospitals. Private clinics such as International Clinic have a complete list of all their doctors. Referrals are easy to come by and often take no time at all, when using a private clinic. Referrals to see public specialists may take considerably more time
Making an appointment is as simple as calling the doctor's office, regardless of what type of doctor you'd like to see. Appointments in the public sector are normally given within 24 to 72 hours. Same day appointments are possible if you use private clinics. If making use of public health facilities, however, you're recommended to show up in person. Office hours vary for public clinics but there are always two periods, between 9am and 1pm, and an evening slot from 5 to 8.30pm.
Public hospitals are always open for emergencies. Emergencies are always attended to promptly and without delay. Many private clinics are staffed 24/7, with on call doctors for emergencies. It is important to note that in most cases, life threatening injuries such has severely broken bones/dislocations, injuries sustained in traffic collisions or wounds needing stitches, are always referred to a public hospital.
A routine first diagnostic visit to a private doctor costs around $40 (£25), with additional fees for any tests required by the doctor. Many private doctors are able to process simple blood and urine tests on site. A call-out fee for a home visit can be very costly; a night-time visit incurs a surcharge. If referred to a specialist, this too will incur additional costs. These costs vary greatly, depending on the type of doctor. Payment is expected when services are rendered, unless covered by private health insurance. Always ask for an itemized receipt.
Like doctors, dentists are also readily available throughout Kuwait. The quality and care provided is excellent. Nearly all are from abroad, in particular Scandinavia, Britain and Russia.
Dentists and orthodontists advertise in telephone directories, expatriate magazines, on billboards and even city buses. Most dentists in the region are private, although local nationals are sometimes treated at public hospitals.
Office hours vary widely from dentist to dentist. Generally though, 9am to 1pm and 4 to 8pm, Saturdays to Thursdays, are considered normal business hours.
Due to fierce competition, treatment costs don't vary by much. Many dentists have their own labs and technicians producing crowns, bridges and prosthetics which can speed up treatment. If you need extensive treatment, discuss a payment plan with your dentist to spread the cost over a period. If you're insured, the insurers will require the dentist to fill out the appropriate paperwork; check that he does so properly. As with most medical services, payment is expected after treatment or, after each office visit.
Because prices aren't published, it's important to inquire ahead of time, the price of any dental treatment.
The rules differ between expats and Kuwaiti nationals when it comes to being off work due to an illness. Expats should always notify their employer when sick. Time off from work due to an illness varies from company to company. In most cases, it's best to seek medical attention and, if necessary, your doctor will give you a sick note to give your employer.
Kuwaiti nationals, on the other hand, operate under a different set of rules.
The following applies to sick leave (on a per year basis) for Kuwaitis:
Refer to the section on "Social Security" for more information.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Kuwait City is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Kuwait. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
EasyExpat.com works in partnership with APRIL International to provide specific insurance solutions for travelling or staying outside your country of nationality.
Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in Kuwait: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.