Dubai: All Dubai residents will have health insurance within three years and a new law has made it compulsory for companies to provide coverage for their employees.
Presently, only one million Dubai residents have health cover and the new regulation will give more than three million people access to quality health-care services, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced on Tuesday.
The mandatory health insurance is also linked to the visa, and every expatriate’s residence or work visa renewal would require him or her to be covered by health insurance. This includes domestic workers such as maids and drivers. However, individual expatriate employees who sponsor their spouses and children will have to bear the cost of their health insurance.
The new Health Insurance Law has been approved by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Eisa Al Maidour, director-general, DHA, said, “The law is fundamental to ensuring smooth delivery of essential health insurance to everyone living in the emirate, which roughly means over three million people, including nationals and residents with Dubai visas.”
The new law, according to him, will ensure universal access to quality health care services. The other goal of this law, he said, is the development of a health insurance system that is dynamic in nature and one that will attract investment and quality players in the field of health to boost the emirate’s booming economy.
Hospitals and clinics are ready to handle the expected rush of people who would seek medical services once they are covered, he said. An additional 1,500 hospital beds are being added across the emirate.
The new health insurance regulation will now encourage many expatriates to seek prompt medical help here rather than delay the process and wait until their annual vacations to avail of cheaper health-care services back home.
Regarding the additional costs to be borne by companies, Dr Haider Al Yousuf, director, Health Funding, DHA, said it works out to about 1.5 per cent of a company’s payroll budget to provide health cover to its employees. It is the responsibility of companies to provide for their expatriate employees’ health care, he said.
Emiratis, he said, will receive insurance cards to replace the existing DHA health cards that provide for health care services and preventive care.
Health insurance packages will soon be made available for all employers in Dubai. The basic health insurance package will cost Dh600 per year and will provide basic health services and surgeries. However, it will not cover preventive care. Dr Al Yousuf said the authorities are working towards it.
Commenting on the possibility of expatriates fearing that the additional costs to be borne by companies due to the new policy may lead them to adjust salaries, Dr Al Yousuf clarified that doing so would be against the law.
He allayed fears by explaining that only registered companies would be able to provide insurance schemes and packages.
“The DHA will provide insurance companies with Health Insurance Permits and the move is aimed to ensure that every insurance company follows high standards as well as rules and regulations that are compliant with the Authority.”
Categories of beneficiaries of health insurance
1) UAE nationals: Every national’s Benefit Package will include the provision of preventive and curative health services, based on DHA’s policies.
2) Residents: A benefit package that includes the health insurance coverage to be offered by the employer or the sponsor, which should not be less than the “essential benefits package”. The employer and the sponsor can provide additional coverage to employees and their dependents.
3) Visitors: Includes the health services for emergency cases, based on DHA’s specifications in coordination with all parties that deal with visitors.
Responsibilities of various parties involved in the provision of health insurance:
1) The government will be responsible for UAE nationals, based on the health-funding policy and regulations issued by the DHA.
2) Employers will be responsible for their employees, based on their current health insurance policy; and the benefits shall not be less than those of the essential benefit package.
3) The sponsors, for their sponsored individuals (spouse, children, etc), who do not work for an employer; and the benefits shall not be less than those of the essential benefit package.
4) For visitors: The designated party assigned by DHA, in collaboration with the relevant entities, for visitors.
Employers are responsible for:
1. Enrolling their employees in the mandatory health insurance scheme based on their current health insurance policy, and in accordance with this law and its regulations
2. Bearing the cost, which must not be deducted from the beneficiaries.
3. Ensuring the validity of the health insurance coverage throughout the period of their employment.
4. Bearing the full cost of the health care services provided and the emergency services for any of their employees, in the absence of a valid health insurance cover.
5. Providing health insurance cards to their employees.
6. Submitting evidence of health insurance coverage when requesting a new residency visa or for renewal of a residency visa for their employees.
7. Any other responsibilities assigned by DHA as issued in the regulations.
This law is to apply to the entire emirate of Dubai, including the private development areas, free zones, including Dubai International Financial Centre( DIFC), and its Articles apply to any and all of the following:
6. Healthcare providers.
7. Health Insurance companies.
8. Third Party Administrators (TPAs).
9. Health Insurance Brokers.
10. Any other individual or legal person decided by The Executive Council, based on DHA’s recommendations.