Healthcare in Qatar
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Qatar falls just 25 USD behind the United Arab Emirates in healthcare expenditure per capita but remains well ahead the rest of its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners and, indeed, the world average. This partiallly accounts for the country's low birth mortality rates and a growing medical tourism industry.
Expats can use both the public and the private system, but many prefer the latter to avoid the bureaucracy associated with the former. Health insurance is not provided by the government, and it’s recommended that all expats living in Qatar take out private health insurance to cover costs that can rise quickly in the case of medical complications and emergencies.
Public healthcare in Qatar
Public healthcare in Qatar is managed by the Hamad Medical Corporation, a non-profit organisation that has been in charge of the country's major public hospitals since 1979. It has created an intricate network of hospitals and clinics which provide free treatment to local Qataris, and largely subsidised services for expats at institutions such as the Hamad General Hospital, Al Khor Hospital, Women’s Hospital and the Psychiatric Hospital.
Foreigners moving to Qatar only need apply for a health card in order to take advantage of state-sponsored healthcare. Expatriates in the emirate will, however, need to pay fairly nominal charges for tests, consultations and inpatient care.
Getting a health card
Applications for a health card can be completed at a general post office or a recognised health card office. Expats need only bring a copy of their passport with their residence visa, two colour passport-sized photographs, and a completed application form, in addition to the basic fee of 100 QAR. Renewals can now be done online at the Qatari government ePortal, or at a health card office.
The Qatari health card is presented upon treatment at any public facility, allowing the bearer to receive a subsidised rate.
Private healthcare in Qatar
The Qatari government is also a strong advocate for the development of private sector services. In 2010 alone, for example, nearly 100 new facilities were established and the number of licensed practitioners in the emirate increased by around 30 percent.
Many of these professionals are expats themselves, lured abroad by the same attractive salary packages and the spirit of adventure that others are attracted by. As such, some expats seek out doctors from their home country, if it makes them feel more comfortable receiving medical attention in Qatar.
Private healthcare is available either on a pay-as-its-needed basis, or as a service covered by local or international healthcare providers. Given that treatment costs can accumulate quickly, it is advised that expats ensure they have some sort of insurance.
Health insurance in Qatar
Expats moving to Qatar should make an effort to have their sponsor/employer include private health insurance in their contract. This coverage, in addition to the basic health card, will ensure that all of their healthcare concerns can be laid to rest while living in the emirate.
Pharmacies in Qatar
There are plenty of pharmacies available in Qatar, some of which are even open late. Most stock a good range of products, although it’s always a good idea to bring a small supply of any necessary medication from home until its availability in Qatar can be confirmed.
Emergency services in Qatar
While emergency services in Qatar consisted of a fleet of five ambulances until the turn of the century, there are now more than enough vehicles with an impressive average response time of around seven minutes.
Dial 999 to call the police, the fire department or an ambulance.