Saudi Arabia expands health insurance to cover bariatric and metabolic surgery

Bariatric and metabolic surgery will be covered by health insurance in Saudi Arabia from 1 October in a move to improve the nation’s health by treating and reducing obesity rates in the Kingdom, according to a report in Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

“Those persons with a body mass index exceeding 40 and above without complications, or those with body mass index of 35 and above but suffer from chronic diseases will be the beneficiaries of insurance coverage for obesity procedures and operations,” explained Dr Nasser Al-Johani, spokesman of the Council of Health Insurance and executive director for empowerment and supervision at the council. “The insurance coverage for obesity operations aims to provide more and more appropriate options for health insurance beneficiaries as part of the council’s efforts to reduce obesity rates.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the overall prevalence of obesity is estimated to be 33.7% and of overweight is 68.2% (World Health Organization. World health organization diabetes country profiles. Saudi Arabia; 2016).

“The decline in obesity rates depends not only on operations, but also on other factors including lifestyle changes such as reducing sugars and fats, maintaining appropriate exercise, a healthy and balanced diet, and other factors,” he added.

Al-Johani stressed that the insurance coverage was expanded in accordance with the best clinical practices and bariatric procedures that are performed based on eligibility criteria such as international clinical evidence, and the Saudi Guideline for Obesity and Metabolic Surgery.


Further information

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To access the WHO report, please click here