Move ‘will bolster jobs drive’

COMPULSORY medical insurance for expatriates will make Bahrainis more attractive to employers, a top official declared yesterday.

The current cost of employing Bahrainis is considerably higher than that of employing expatriates, said Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chief executive Ali Radhi.

“Once the compulsory medical insurance for expats comes into force, it will increase the costs for employers,” he told the workshop.

The foreign population in Bahrain has been growing at the rate of 11 per cent per year, said Mr Radhi.

“Their number increased from 206,000 in 2001 to 430,000 in 2008,” he revealed.

“The actual foreign workers increased during this period from 180,000 to 397,000.

“They are insured with the General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI), which gives them coverage against work injuries.

“A survey carried out in 2006 and 2007 revealed that 3.1pc of non-Bahrainis left work in 2005 due to health reasons.”

Mr Radhi said the survey also revealed that 37pc of the total workforce in Bahrain was covered by medical insurance.

“For another 34pc, the employers reimburse the cost of medical treatment,” he noted.


“This means, about 71pc of the workforce are covered by some kind of medical insurance.”

However, the majority of the workers belonging to the labour class have no medical insurance coverage.

“According to the new LMRA system for issuing work visas, the employees are advised to undergo health check-ups at a medical centre back home approved by Bahrain’s Health Ministry before they travel to Bahrain to take up employment,” said Mr Radhi.

“We also make it mandatory for those expat employees who are above 60 years to have proper medical insurance coverage, if their employers still require their services.”

Once the compulsory medical insurance for expatriates is implemented, the costs for employing them will further go up, making Bahraini employees more attractive to the employers, said Mr Radhi