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. Picture used for illustrative purposes only Image Credit: AHMED RAMZAN/Gulf News

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.

Expected rush

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.

Basic package

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.”