2004 News Story

Insurance companies ready for challenge of health coverage

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), which has set February 9, 2005 as the deadline to receive applications, reports that so far sixty-six insurance companies have presented letters of intent to operate in the Kingdom to provide health coverage. SAMA reported a 9.8 percent increase in the Kingdom's medical insurance last year, reaching SR260.9 million [$69.7 million], following the introduction in 2002 of the cooperative health insurance scheme for expatriate workers. In February, the scheme will be applied to Saudis working in the private sector.

The Kingdom's health insurance market is estimated at SR8 billion [U.S. $2.1 billion], but is expected to exceed SR18 billion [$4.8 billion] within the next five years, according to the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The contribution of the insurance sector to the Gross Domestic Product will therefore increase from the present 0.7 percent to 3.7 percent.