Physicians perception of health insurance in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Med J. 2006 May;27(5):693-9.


Objective: To assess physicians views on health insurance and its implication on the health care system.

Methods: We carried out a cross-sectional study in 2 major hospitals in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Data were collected from January to December 2002 through self-administered questionnaires that were distributed to a total sample of 400 physicians. The instrument consisted of 28 items that focused on assessing physicians' perception towards health insurance and its effect on health services. We performed a descriptive statistics and analysis of variance using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences.

Results: Overall, 151 physicians (38%) completed the survey. This study clearly shows that access to health care services is a major concern; more than 94% of the respondents agree that everyone in the Kingdom should have access to healthcare services. Respondents also agree that health insurance will improve access to healthcare services for all citizens. Physicians also believed that health insurance would lead to more regulations and utilization review of services, create more competition between healthcare providers, and create new jobs in the healthcare sector. Saudi physicians reported a higher mean score for 11 items with significant p-values as compared with non-Saudi physicians.

Conclusion: Physicians in this survey believed that accessibility is a major policy concern, and that health insurance will have a positive effect on access to the health care system. Yet, accessibility is an illusive term with many aspects that go beyond the identification of need for health care to the actual delivery of health care services and the organizational structures to match the needs of society. Cooperation as a national health system should be built on collaborative efforts rather than market competition in itself. It has been suggested that markets are stronger in the role of delivery than in the financing of health care, that markets tend to promote more expenditure on technological innovation rather than producing the most desired set of social outcomes. Cooperative health insurance can be an answer to the current problems facing the health care system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as long as it remains cooperative rather than competitive.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*