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Article | Global News Briefs

Qatar: Health insurance mandate for foreigners becomes law

By Steve Clements | December 21, 2021

A new law will require all foreign nationals to have private health insurance coverage to receive basic healthcare services in Qatar.
Health and Benefits|Benessere integrato|Ukupne nagrade

Employer Action Code: Act

Law 22 of 2021 establishes the general framework governing public and private healthcare services under the direction of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) as well as the application and supervision of health insurance. In addition to guaranteeing Qatari nationals free healthcare at government facilities, it also requires all foreign nationals to have private health insurance (PHI) coverage, directly affecting almost the entire private sector workforce — 94% of which are foreign nationals (Planning and Statistics Authority data). The mandate will replace the requirement for foreigners to purchase a Hamad health card in order to receive public healthcare services and thus will expand the local market for private health insurance, as the law requires that PHI be purchased from locally licensed health insurers. Currently, though group and individual PHI policies are available, the local market is small and not captured by official insurance statistics. The law takes effect on May 4, 2022, six months after its publication in the official Gazette.

Key details

For employers, noteworthy aspects of Law 22 of 2021 include:

  • All foreign nationals (residents and visitors) must have PHI in order to receive basic healthcare services through designated public and private service providers. Qualifying PHI must be arranged with local insurers and provide a basic level of coverage as designated by the MoPH.
  • Employers must arrange insurance coverage for foreign workers and their dependents, if any, living with them in Qatar. Employers must provide proof of insurance when renewing work permits.
  • The full cost of the mandated insurance must be covered by the employer, although deductibles and copayments may apply for certain types care. If the employer fails to maintain the mandated insurance coverage, the employer will be liable for the cost of healthcare services provided.

Employer implications

Many of the details regarding how the new system will work remain to be determined through separate MoPH regulations, which are expected to be issued in the coming months. Among other things, the MoPH is expected to determine basic healthcare service packages; determine levels of services to be provided by categories of insurees; register service providers; determine the services each is authorized to provide; and register insurance companies, claims managers and insurance brokers. Employers will need to ensure that their plans use a compliant locally licensed insurer, are adjusted as necessary to align to the mandated minimums for plan design features and are competitive for the market. Currently, driven by the largely foreign nature of the workforce, virtually all companies surveyed by Willis Towers Watson provide some level of PHI to employees and their dependents. Often this is arranged with regional insurers that will now need to ensure their operations and products are locally registered and compliant. For more background information on the development of the mandate, please see the April 2021 Global News Brief Qatar: Mandatory health insurance for foreigners on this topic.


Senior Director, Integrated & Global Solutions, CEEMEA

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