1999 News Story

Health minister comments on new medical insurance

Minister of Health Dr. Osama Abdulmajeed Shobokshi announced today that the cooperative

health insurance scheme for expatriates that was approved at yesterday's cabinet meeting

would come into effect 90 days after its executive regulations are issued about one year

from now.  He explained that the concept of the scheme arose from overcrowding in

government hospitals, not only on account of the number of expatriates receiving treatment

but also because of the increase in the number of Saudi nationals.  Saudi Arabia has an

annual population growth rate of 3.8 percent, one of the world's highest.

Dr. Shobokshi went on to say that the principle of the new scheme is the provision of

medical insurance on a not-for-profit basis for the sole benefit of the subscribers. He

gave assurances that the Kingdom's ulema (religious scholars) have approved this method as

the closest to the Islamic ideal of solidarity and mutual help.  He said that if the scheme

proves successful, its application may be extended to include Saudi nationals in future.

Such a scheme would greatly alleviate the government's burden.  It would also invigorate

the private sector health services, since part of the plan is accreditation of private

hospitals and clinics by the insurance council.