The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is comprised of six states that include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, each of which offers a number of global expansion opportunities. For organizations interested in expanding into the region, there are several requirements to keep in mind, each essential to compliantly entering and operating in the GCC. Chief among these requirements is healthcare, something that all six states have addressed via legislation that requires all foreigners (both visitors and residents) to have.
Requirements for Health Care in the GCC
Each GCC member state has either implemented healthcare-related legislation for foreigners or have already announced their intentions to do so. Bahrain, for example, has announced a new national health insurance system that will be introduced to its entire population later in 2019. In 2016, Kuwait announced a series of plans that would require all foreign visitors and workers to purchase local insurance policies.
Abu Dhabi's legal requirements are a bit more specific. If foreign employees have monthly earnings under AED 5,000, they must be insured via the basic plan sold by either the state health insurer or other approved insurers. Dubai is similar; foreign employees making under AED 4,000 per month must be insured with the CEP (Care Essential Plan) sold by the state health insurer. Along the same lines, employers need to be aware that the cost of health insurance falls squarely at their feet. Navigating these plans and requirements can be made easier through an International PEO (Professional Employer Organization)—especially when obtaining a visa required.
The Quality of Health Care in the GCC
Aside from strict rules and requirements governing healthcare in the GCC, most organizations will be pleased to know that the quality of that care is very high. The UAE, for example, is highly regarded in terms of the quality of their medical professionals and facilities in both the public and private systems. While it's true that the private hospitals in the region are typically considered to be the "best," the public hospitals enjoy well-deserved respect for their high quality of care, too.
Private health care in the GCC is especially common for expats, where finding a doctor who speaks English is fairly simple. If an employee (or their dependents) should happen to give birth during their stay, they too will be properly looked after with industry-leading medical care. The only exception to this is the UAE, where it is illegal to be in a sexual relationship and unmarried at the same time. Experts recommend that non-married expat females leave the country to give birth before returning.
Expanding Into the GCC With an Experienced Expansion Partner
Quality health care is a major concern for employees worldwide—and healthcare in the UAE certainly offers high quality. For organizations that are planning or are in the process of expanding into the UAE or any GCC member state, this can be a significant boost when it comes to both attracting and retaining top talent. Studies have regularly shown that healthcare coverage (including medical and dental) is seen as the top perk that people look for when searching for a new employer. This outranks the ability to work remotely, 401(k) plans, and even a signing bonus. As a result, employers may benefit from viewing healthcare less as a government requirement and more of an opportunity—one that can be difficult to match in raw value in other locations around the world.
If you have any additional questions about the status of healthcare in the GCC, or if you'd like to learn more about how Velocity Global’s International PEO solution supports international employees while getting you into any of the GCC markets in a matter of days—not months— reach out to us today.