Bahrain is the latest Middle East country to seek to reduce the strain on state healthcare, by introducing compulsory private health insurance for all expatriates.
400,000 non-Bahrainis are currently entitled to unlimited health services at government hospitals and health centres. Foreign residents account for a 39 % of the total population and 72% of the total workforce.
2008 will see compulsory insurance for expats working at large companies with over 500 employees. The following years will see this extended to those with over 50 employees, then over 10 employees, then all expats except domestic helpers, and finally, all domestic helpers. By 2013 all expats will have to have cover.
Meanwhile, even small businesses will have to pay increased fees and levies to the state, for every expatriate worker.
Individuals and companies will be expected to buy international health insurance from the insurance market.