Opinion | Off the Cuff

Need to get my eyes and teeth covered

Whenever wife and entourage leave for Delhi, there is a long list of things that need to be done and sorted out — health-wise

  • By Mahmood Saberi Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 January 9, 2013
  • Gulf News

Dubai better hurry up and implement soon the ruling about mandatory health insurance for all, as it is causing a lot of tension in my home.

I have got health coverage, but my wife and children do not. So every time there is a toothache in the family, we wait for the annual vacations. “It’s cheaper to go to a dentist in India,” says my wife, stuffing cotton wool dipped in clove oil into the tooth cavity.

It’s also cheaper to get shoes hand-made in India, I say sarcastically, but it doesn’t make a difference what I say and we all save our illnesses and diseases for the annual holidays.

Whenever wife and entourage leave for Delhi, there is a long list of things that need to be done and sorted out health-wise, and it does not seem like we are going on our annual holidays, but on a medical tourism binge.

“The annual blood tests cost between Dh400 to Dh500 each here,” says my wife as we check on the net what tests need to be done. A quick call to a friendly doctor in Dubai and he suggests the usual suspects: Lipid profile, blood sugar and something else which I didn’t expect — test for deficiency of Vitamin D. Apparently, many of us do not go out too much in the sun here.

People come from far away to Dubai to get a face-lift or a bypass done, while we head out in the opposite direction for treatment. We usually go to the family doctor who operates from a fancy clinic in a crowded lane and unfortunately is getting older and older as time passes by and he can barely see us.

As you know Abu Dhabi had made it mandatory, some time back, that every resident should be covered by health insurance and now I hear that people turn up at hospitals at the first sign of a runny nose.

Kidding aside, things have changed since the time when the first expatriates landed here a long, long time ago, when major highways where just two-lane and health care was in its infancy. At that time, medical care was free for every expatriate and unfortunately people started taking advantage of the system.

There were stories of expatriates flying in their ailing parents for free surgery and that obviously put a huge burden on the health care system.

Actually it’s my fault as I have tried to save and scrimp and after hearing of the premium rates offered by insurance companies, decided to wait for a while and surf around for a better deal.

Insurance companies are also very quirky and do not cover parts of your body which you need the most and where the most wear-and-tear happens. For instance, I was at the arrival lounge at the airport the other day and craning my neck to see if the family was coming around the corner, when I saw this huge mass of people coming towards me.

Everyone, even children, were wearing shiny eyeglasses and it seemed like Dubai was hosting a convention of intellectuals or a congress for the very short-sighted.

People say that humanity’s eye sight is diminishing because we look at our smartphone screens a lot, whatever may be the reason for the failing eyesight, insurance companies do not cover your eyes, or your teeth.

Since I am an ex-smoker, I still have huge problems with my teeth which is sort of a payback for all the years of smoking at the keyboard. Obviously, my teeth are also not covered.

The other downside of lack of health insurance is that we carry tonnes of medicines across the borders like drug mules conned by drug lords. We carry homeopathy pills for every imaginable ailment possible.

Gulf News
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