Dubai: Insurers selling the Dh550 a year Dubai Health Authority mandated ‘basic’ health cover plan in Dubai have been told not to pad up these policies with additional benefits. And if they still want to offer ‘enhanced cover’, they can only sell these policies at a minimum premium of Dh750 a year.
“The DHA (Dubai Health Authority) mandated that the minimum premium on any DHA-approved enhanced cover should not be less that Dh750 – and that’s excluding ‘Basmah’ and VAT,” said M. Rajendran, Managing Director at Al Futtaim Willis, the insurance brokerage and consultancy. (The ‘Basmah’ is an additional sum insurers selling approved basic insurance plans set aside if any of the insured need cancer treatment. The compulsory Basmah contributions are made on each such policy sold.)
The basic health insurance policy has become one of the most intensely fought over by insurers, and more so after the events of last year. Even as residents become more conscious of managing their budgets, they are picking up health insurance cover that can offer the most benefits – but at the lowest possible premium.
And insurers were only too willing to offer that, which is where the ‘enhanced cover’ benefits come in. So, for Dh550 or thereabouts, insurers were padding up benefits over and above what was mandated. Under the DHA approved basic medical insurance policy – or Essential Benefits Plan – there are clear guidelines on what can be offered.
With the new crackdown, the health authorities are making sure insurers stick to the ‘basics’.
"The minimum premium used to vary from insurer to insurer depending on what they had agreed with the DHA," said M. Rajendran of Al Futtaim Willis. "In the past few months, the minimum has been revised to Dh552 and that's inclusive of 'Basmah' and VAT, which effectively means that basic minimum premium has now come down to Dh525 from Dh550 a year."
It was in 2014 that the DHA introduced the Essential benefits Plan via a staggered approach. A handful of insurers were selected to offer these policies for an easily accessible Dh500 or more. In the first phase, the mandatory medical insurance cover was for companies with sizeable workforces and then all the rest of them were added over the subsequent two years. (Later on, all those with a Dubai visa came under the medical insurance umbrella.)
According to Vikas Katoch, Chief Operating Officer at Right Health, the mid-market focussed healthcare provider, it was the best outcome to have the DHA step in and issue clear guidelines on what can be sold at what price.
“For the Essential Benefits Plan to work, there is the need to ensure no policy is getting sold below the minimum stipulated premium,” he said. “Plus, the minimum premium rate should be subject to variable factors like the individual’s record on pre-diseases, age and pharmacy limits.”
Clearly, the last word has not been said about Dubai’s basic health insurance policies – but with clear instructions being issued on what those ‘enhanced covers’ should be sold for, the authorities have made a strong start.