Private Medical Insurance for Expats Living in Saudi Arabia

The health system in Saudi Arabia is steadily improving, with more improvement to come. The country has made a substantial effort to ensure that hospitals in the Kingdom have the most up to date facilities for surgical and diagnostic procedures. As well as this, hospitals have many Expatriate staff members who work to standards and codes of practice similar to those in America, which is good news for the six million Expatriates and residents, living there.


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Health Insurance For Expats, Business Travellers, Employees Working living in Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia Health Care

Throughout Saudi Arabia, there are over 2,000 health care centres, which were set up after a government decree being issued in 2002. This decree was issued to ensure the country would be able to provide a good quality of care for everyone and today, the standards of care in the Kingdom compare well with those in the United States and in Europe. A referral system has been introduced in over 200 hospitals, combining the primary care network with curative services, to cover the whole of society.

One of the popular and main tertiary referral centres is the King Fahad Medical City, which serves the 27 million citizens of the country. Management of diabetes, neurosciences and advanced haematology are only a few of the services that the medical city specialises in, and it operates a first class a cancer centre. There are also specialist hospitals for women and children, in addition to these facilities.

Within the capital city, Riyadh, Expats will have the King Khalid Eye Hospital, which provides a range of medical services for people who have eye trouble. On top of this, there are educational and research programmes for residents and also for people across the world. This is funded from Saudi’s investment in health care, with the national budget doubling since the 1970s. Saudi now has two practising doctors per 1,000 people.

Compusory Insurance for Expats

The free health care policies, for nationals of Saudi Arabia, were found to be inadequate for Expats and this resulted in compulsory medical insurance being introduced in 2005. This was then later introduced in other parts of the Gulf.

With the high number of foreigners in the country, with one in five being Expatriates, complaints were being made and the larger companies starting offering health insurance cover for their employees, as the regulations became stronger.

When news of the compulsory cover rules spread, insurance companies began to offer different levels of cover to international and non-international residents, and this alleviated some of their losses and stopped them being forced out of the market. This was good news for the Expat community.

Health insurance rates for individuals have varied extensively, but this did not apply to the corporate business sector as the bigger businesses always used (and still do) their power to get better insurance deals.

Individual Cover

Those who are working in Saudi permanently, or even temporarily, should ensure that their insurance cover is organised and paid for by their employer,


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Health Insurance For Expats, Business Travellers, Employees Working living in Saudi Arabia


Health Insurance Providers

Some of the main insurance providers include:

  • BUPA Saudi Arabia
  • MedGulf Arabia – An insurance company which insures over a million people through businesses across the country
  • Tawuniya

Dr. Khemka, the medical director of BUPA International stated that, although there is high quality medical services on offer, most people choose the emergency evacuation cover. Emergency evacuation is one of the options available under BUPA International, but Expats must remember that it is dependent on the policy holder buying the additional cover.

UAE Health Care

The United Arab Emirates is another popular destination for health care, and the population in Saudi can always turn to the local health facilities in that country. However, for a few years now, private hospitals in London have been getting a lot of patients from the Gulf States.  Although there is excellent health care for all basic, secondary and primary needs, patients in Saudi will mostly want to go outside of Saudi for access to specialist care, predominantly to London or Western Europe.

Foreign Office recommendations for Saudi Arabia

It is highly recommended by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, that insurance cover is taken out by all, even if only staying temporarily in the Saudi. The FCO stated that, individuals should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance for the duration of their proposed stay, before travelling. They warn that hospitals may refuse treatment if a patient is uninsured or cannot pay in advance.

Private Health Insurance costs in Saudi Arabia

The prices of insurance in Saudi Arabia are fairly reasonable especially when comparing it to the medical premiums of other parts of Asia and the Middle East.

Taking out medical insurance in Saudi Arabia has become compulsory, especially for people travelling from different countries. Competition among insurance providers has helped to reduce insurance rates, and employers no longer dread the cost of insuring their staff.

Health Warnings

Britons are given warnings, from the FCO, about the risks of the Rift Valley fever where people are travelling in the south-west of Saudi. Malaria is another risk.

It is advised that, expats who are planning on visiting the south-west should get information on cerebral malaria along with the rift valley fever. Precautions should be taken to avoid bites from mosquitos.


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Health Insurance For Expats, Business Travellers, Employees Working living in Saudi Arabia


Inoculations Advice

The health authorities of the United Kingdom have advised people who are travelling to Saudi Arabia, to get the following vaccinations:

  • Yellow fever
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • Typhoid
  • Diptheria (Three months before travelling)

Contagious diseases spread quickly, especially during Ramadan and Hajj and this information has been given by the National Travel Health Network and Centre.  One of the visa requirements when travelling for Ramadan or Hajj is that travellers must have a certificate of vaccination against meningitis.

The temperature in Saudi Arabia, in the summer, could go up to 45C and travellers may experience respiratory problems caused by this as well as the amount of dust in the air.


Expats are warned about the threat of terrorism in the country by the FCO. If you’re living in Saudi Arabia, you should regularly review and make sure you’re satisfied with the security measures provided by the management and local authorities at the residential compound where you live, the place where you work and the school where your children study.