Abu Dhabi: The full medical insurance scheme for Emiratis working in the private sector will be withdrawn by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) effective from February 15, Gulf News has learnt.

A circular issued by the HAAD on February 3 states that Emiratis working in the private sector will henceforth have to bear 50 per cent of the cost of pharmaceutical products and dental care services.

The new rule cuts back on some of the benefits enjoyed by Emiratis under the Thiqa Health Insurance scheme. The Thiqa card earlier assured nationals of access to free medical coverage in all health care facilities and qualified them for broader geographical coverage and extra health benefits.

Registered with the National Health Insurance Company's network (Daman), the Thiqa scheme has opened two designated branches in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain and has a call centre to answer enquiries by Emirati citizens.

"The decision to charge Emirati employees working in the private sector 50 per cent of the cost of pharmaceutical products and dental care services was made by HAAD. From our side we are technically prepared to implement the change and are currently in discussions with our providers to make sure the implementation process moves smoothly," said Dr Michael Bitzer, chief executive officer at Daman.

Bitzer acknowledged that people alarmed by the decision had been keeping the call centre busy with their phone calls.

"We have received quiet a few calls this [Tuesday] morning and more are expected, but I haven't checked with our call centre since 10.00 am," he said.

When contacted for clarifications, the official at the HAAD concerned with health insurance policies refused to comment on the decision.

However, in earlier meetings, some of the HAAD's top officials had sought to tell the media that all Thiqa card holders would be entitled to full medical treatment free of charge.

No details: Website not updated

The Health Authority Abu Dhabi website does not reflect the planned changes to the Thiqa scheme (source: http://www.haad.ae/haad/tabid/345/Default.aspx).

In the absence of any updates, the website continues to tout features of the old Thiqa scheme.

Here are some pointers to the old scheme as stated on the HAAD website:
- UAE nationals are encouraged to enrol in the new health insurance program called "thiqa".

- This insurance programme entitles UAE nationals to a comprehensive range of health care services at all public and private sector health care facilities in the thiqa Network beginning mid-2008.

- Enrolment in "thiqa" is free of charge and is for UAE nationals of all ages.

- UAE nationals from Abu Dhabi who are 18 years and older can complete their Weqaya health check and enrolment in "thiqa" at the same time.

- You will receive a screening form after you have completed your Weqaya health check. This screening form is required for "thiqa" enrolment.

- Once you have completed your "thiqa" enrolment, your new "thiqa" card will be mailed to you.

- "Thiqa" is managed by the National Health Insurance Company (Daman) and supported by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi and SEHA (Abu Dhabi Health Services Company).