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.