Published: Nov 25, 2018

GCC Health Insurance Conference – Top Ten Tips for Healthcare Providers

The first Gulf Health Insurance Conference was held on 19th and 20th November 2018 in Bahrain. The two day event included a number of panel discussions on healthcare insurance reforms in the Middle East including the new compulsory health insurance law in Bahrain discussed here in our previous article in August 2018.

Below we set out our top ten tips for healthcare providers in the Gulf region, arising from the key topics discussed at the Conference in Bahrain.

The headline speakers included Lieutenant. General Dr. Shaikh Mohammed Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa (Chairman of the Supreme Council of Health), former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom. The event focussed on a number of key regional healthcare issues including the importance of the exchange of expertise and specialist knowledge in relation to health insurance coverage from various countries across the globe.

As Ban Ki Moon stated at the Conference, “health coverage is a fundamental human right”. Achieving a universal health coverage objective requires strong strategic partnerships between the private and public sector and integrated health information systems to manage those health insurance schemes. Bahrain aims to follow the lead of the United Arab Emirates in implementing a successful mandatory health insurance scheme.

The Top Ten Tips for Healthcare Providers in the Gulf Region

Our top ten tips for healthcare providers to successfully navigate the challenges faced across the Gulf region in the health insurance market are as follows:

  1. Share expertise and knowledge in relation to health insurance schemes operating globally.
  2. Strategic purchasing systems require key performance indicators to be implemented to ensure realistic budgeting and track intervention specific cost data. Successful examples of such systems include the systems utilised in countries such as Estonia and the Republic of Korea.
  3. The empowerment of local communities to improve healthcare should not be overlooked. This strategy has been a powerful tool for improving healthcare systems in Oman.
  4. Transparency of where funds are being spent and accountability for finances are key to ensure robust oversight of health insurance schemes.
  5. Insurance claims data ought to be captured and effectively monitored to ensure a pathway for improvement. Clear data requires to be captured upon implementation of health insurance schemes in Bahrain.
  6. Healthcare insurance is a social commitment to the regional marketplace by insurance companies. It is a value based model and there must be mutual trust between providers and insurers.
  7. The autonomy of public sector providers in a uniform healthcare coverage model is important to ensure contractual relationships can be agreed with service providers. A central list of services and a strategic purchasing system can assist ensure hospitals do not overspend on budget.
  8. Big data and technology will assist revolutionise healthcare insurance schemes. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, twenty healthcare data systems have been integrated into one single system for example to ensure a consistent approach to data capture. It is important that the most suitable system is chosen by providers to ensure they are able to capture information which will help achieve their overall objectives and meet their needs.
  9. Incentives for service delivery is an important aspect of continuous improvement of service provision although any performance pay should be carefully balanced with a socially responsible system of managing payments. Conflicts of interest ought to be avoided by healthcare practitioners.
  10. Licensing, laws and regulations applicable to the healthcare industry may allow a degree of flexibility to regulators. In Bahrain, sixteen hospitals have been accredited in one year by the National Health Regulatory Authority which is a clear example of what can be achieved when service providers effectively engage in partnerships with regulators.

The benefits of implementing national health insurance for Gulf countries are that it will help ensure an accessible system to improve public health and quality of life. The successful implementation will improve healthcare access and attract further investment in the region.


For further information please contact:

Andrea Tithecott
Partner, Head of Regulatory, Head of Healthcare

James McMillan
Senior Associate