Mental health
Higher claims last year is having quite a major say on what an individual will be paying on his or her medical insurance policy now. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE residents have not seen a significant hike in their medical insurance premiums as most insurers decided to keep rates constant for the 2022 renewals. But there is a catch here.

Premium rates are steady for those who did not generate higher claims from consultations on outpatient treatments during 2021. Those who did generate higher bills, for whatever medical condition they had, are having to contend with much higher premiums if they want a renewal. (At the start of 2021, medical premiums had more or less remained unchanged because of much lower utilisation rates in 2020 due to the COVID-19 situation.)

“I have lost longstanding clients because they just could not understand why they were getting hit with a doubling in their medical insurance payments,” said a senior industry source. “They moved to another insurer – even there, they ended up paying much higher than on the 2021 renewal.”

Rack up higher claims - and you will have to look at higher payout down the line, whether it is on motor or medical. According to Vikas Katoch, Chief Operating Officer at Right Health, one of the biggest operators of clinics and other facilities in Dubai, “Premium increases seen in the recent past at some insurers are primarily due to health-related factors such as age, risk, claims history, etc.

“Generally, there has not been any marked rise in insurance premium for Dubai’s basic plan – the Essential Benefits Plan. If at all there has been an increase, it was subject to enhanced benefits added to the policy.”

Medical premium are rising because...
* While inflation is a consistent contributor, it has typically stayed in the average range of 5-6%.

* Some policies have seen higher increases than the norm mainly due to the "utilization factor", which is the level of claims made through availing of benefits.

* There has been a significant increase in the number of elective surgeries and treatments to last year due to their deferment from 2020 when in-patient treatment was impacted because of COVID-19 related checks while outpatient treatments were restricted.

- Avinash Babur of

No inflation-linked rises – so far

Insurers are, for now, are also absorbing any inflation-linked cost increases rather than add on to the premiums. “So far, no increase has been communicated or enforced by the regulatory authority – the Central Bank - or the insurers,” said Katoch.

Stock - Vikas Katoch
Vikas Katoch of Right Health Group: "There have been some changes to the EBP (Essential Benefits Plan) in the recent past, including an increase in premium subject to enhanced benefits and increasing the drug formulary (which means access to more prescribed medicines under the basic plan)".. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

COVID-19 costs

Easing the insurance cost pain for residents is the fact that COVID-19 related treatments are “still covered under most policies, especially for Dubai visa-holders,” said Avinash Babur, CEO of “However, the costs of testing out based on personal preferences - or not ordered by a medical provider - may not be covered.

“The pandemic triggered a need for insurers to review the coverage under their plans and incorporate specific benefits. Virtual consultations, arrangement of medicine deliveries, and wellness programmes are now available in most plans in Dubai with no tangible impact on the premiums.

“In addition, there are other benefits incorporated that were made mandatory by the DHA (Dubai Health Authority) in response to Covid and these too are non-chargeable.

“According to our data, we've seen only marginal increases on premiums. The rise was more significant in 2021 due to the impact of COVID-19 being felt on the medical insurance sector.”

Avinash Babur
Avinash Babur of "We have seen the introduction of flexible payment options through third-party payment facilitators, where they makes the 100% payment of the premium to the insurer but recovers their outlay from the insured via installments. This helps the insured manage their medical insurance premium payments better." Image Credit: Supplied