An expat guide to healthcare and health insurance in Bahrain
Are you researching an expat health insurance for Bahrain? It is important to find out about the local healthcare system first.
Whether you are moving to Bahrain or you are already living there as an expat, read our guide to the Bahraini healthcare system and your different options of medical insurance for Bahrain.
- Total population (2017) : 1.5 million
- Gross national income per capita (PPP international $, 2013): 36,140
- Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2016): 79/80
- Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population, 2016): 61/50
- Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2014): 2,273
- Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2014): 5
Healthcare in Bahrain for expats
The Kingdom of Bahrain has a modern and comprehensive health system. The country has 24 health centres, three clinics, a multidisciplinary medical facility (Salmaniya Medical Complex), a psychiatric hospital, a geriatric hospital and four birthing centres. Medical facilities and services to the public are equivalent or almost equivalent to private health services in other countries of the world.
Bahrain has more health personnel per capita than other Gulf countries. Wait times for health treatments are short and an appointment usually takes place 24 to 48 hours after making an appointment.
Bahrain’s citizens make good use of the public health services that are free or highly subsidised. However, for more specialised treatments, people who can afford it turn to the private sector or seek treatment abroad. Expats who do not have access to subsidised public health also tend to turn to private health in Bahrain or abroad.
The local healthcare system is divided into three sectors: primary, secondary and tertiary.
Primary health services are delivered by 24 health centres and three clinics. Many curative and preventative services are provided by primary health services (such as visits to general practitioners and nurses, prescriptions, vaccinations or referrals to specialist doctors).
Primary health, which is the first point of contact for patients, is the foundation of Bahrain’s health system.
Health care is free for Bahrainis but expats are charged. The price of a visit is three Bahraini dinars ($4/£6).
Secondary health services are delivered by hospitals, primarily the Salmaniya Medical Complex: a multidisciplinary public medical facility providing urgent care to Bahrainis and foreign residents.
Specialist doctors practice as part of the secondary health service. Primary care physicians refer patients to secondary service specialists.
The tertiary health service is for people travelling to Bahrain as visitors. Non-Bahrainis in possession of a population registration card (a proof of residence card) can receive medical care in the public sector, but not for free.
It is also important to note that although foreigners have access to emergency care in the public service, this type of care is not free either.
Medical bills must be paid immediately. It is therefore strongly recommended to have health insurance as an expat in Bahrain, whether you choose to seek treatment with public or private services.
Mandatory health insurance
Like many other Gulf countries, Bahrain is currently implementing mandatory health insurance for all its citizens, as well as for expats and certain visitors.
One of the government’s intentions is to relieve employers of the cost of foreigners’ health, which is considered a burden on national finances.
The new law requires all Bahraini citizens, residents and certain visitors to pay monthly contributions to a health insurance fund in order to access health services in public and private hospitals and health centres.
Two forms of health insurance in Bahrain are in the process of being created: one for Bahraini citizens and one for residents and visitors. The government will subsidise Bahraini contributions for compulsory health insurance, while employers will be responsible for financing those of expat residents. The implementation of this reform on health insurance in Bahrain is scheduled for early 2019.
International health insurance for expats in Bahrain
As explained above, the Bahraini healthcare system will plan for expats to be subsidised, and they will need to have health insurance as early as 2019. It is therefore strongly advised to have private health insurance as an expat in Bahrain.
You have the choice between local health insurance (which covers you only in Bahrain) or international insurance (which covers you in other countries besides Bahrain).
International health insurance is generally the most suitable option for the expat lifestyle. With this type of insurance, if you decide to seek treatment in your country of origin or another country in the case of a specific treatment, your medical expenses will be covered. Moreover, if after Bahrain you move to another country, your international health insurance can follow you, unlike with local insurance.
International health insurances are generally first-euro (or first-dollar/first-sterling) insurance.
If you would like wider financial protection in the event of stopping work due to an accident or disabling illness, Expat Assure can also advise you on expat life insurance for Bahrain and income protection. To find out more, please read our pages on expat life insurance and expat income protection.
What is the best health insurance for expats in Bahrain?
The best health insurance in Bahrain for one expat might not be the best for you, as everyone has different needs and expectations.
In order to find which one is the best health insurance in Bahrain for you, it is important to consider several aspects such as your medical history, your age, your specific needs in terms of medical cover, your situation in Bahrain, alongside other parameters.
Overview of medical costs in Bahrain
Medical costs are similar from one medical institution to another in Bahrain. Here is an overview of some of the common medical rates in the private sector:
- Consultation with a general practitioner: between 10 ($26/£20) and 15 Bahrain dinars (40/£30)
- Consultation with a specialist doctor: around 25 dinars ($66/£50). For example: 25 dinars ($66/£50) with an ENT doctor, 20 dinars ($50/£40) with an orthopaedist, 25 dinars ($66/£50) with an emergency doctor.
- Price per day of a room in a private hospital: between 75 ($200/£150) and 150 dinars ($400/£305), depending on the type of room chosen.
The costs of dental treatment are high and they vary depending on the type of facility where the care is delivered (private clinic or hospital). Here is an overview of the rates for the most common dental procedures:
- Extraction: 40 dinars ($100/£80)
- Root canal treatment: between 150 ($400/£305) and 250 dinars ($660/£510)
- Cleaning: between 25 ($66/£50), and 50 dinars ($130/£100)
- Teeth whitening: between 50 ($130/£100), and 300 dinars ($800/£610).This rate depends greatly on the method chosen.
- Crown: between 100 ($265/£205), and 400 dinars ($1000/£815), depending on the chosen institution (hospital or dental office) and depending on the materials used.
Such as with any type of health insurance, the price of medical insurance for expats in Bahrain varies greatly depending on the personal situation, the age and the medical history of each individual as well as other parameters.
If you would like to have a precise estimation of the cost of private health insurance for Bahrain, which applies to your situation and needs, we can prepare for you a personalised comparison of different international health insurance plans. Contact us today for your free health insurance comparison.
No specific vaccination is required to enter Bahrain but it is recommended to have an up-to-date vaccination schedule.
Police / Firefighters: 999; Ambulance: 998; International Emergency Number: 112
If you travel to Bahrain with sleeping pills, powerful pain relievers or anti-depressants, it is advisable to always have your doctor’s prescription with you.
Attention to heat
As in other Gulf countries, temperatures can reach 50°C in summer. The risks of sunstroke and sunburn are therefore very high. Dehydration is another threat not to be underestimated as it is potentially life-threatening.
Bahrain suffers from a chronic shortage of drinking water: the only two sources of fresh water being ground water and desalinated water. It is recommended to consume only bottled water or decontaminated water (by filtering, boiling or using decontamination tablets).
- List of medical facilities on the website of the Bahraini Ministry of Health (click ‘English’ in the top left corner)
- Bahrain Embassy website
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