Dr Haidar Al Yousuf says that the basic coverage package makes premiums for elderly dependants far cheaper. Image Credit: DHA

Dubai: Dubai residents have just 17 days left, until December 31, to get health insurance, or face stiff fines, an official said on Wednesday.

From January 1, 2017, the fine for each resident who does not have mandatory health cover is Dh500 per month.

This amount must be paid by either an employee’s sponsor, or a resident who is sponsoring dependants. If not covered by a an employee’s company, dependants can include spouses, children and domestic workers such as houseboys, maids and nannies.

As well as the fine, no new visa will be granted and no existing one renewed without health insurance.

This rule will be enforced in cooperation between Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

Compulsory insurance cover only applies to Dubai residents.

DHA officials on Tuesday urged sponsors who have not yet provided their employees and dependants with insurance to complete the process as soon as possible.

The yearly premium for the most basic health insurance cover, known as the Essential Benefit Package, ranges from Dh565 to Dh650 — not much more than the cost of a single month’s fine.

The beneficiary with basic insurance cover — aimed at dependants and employees who make less than Dh4,000 monthly — gets a maximum coverage of up to Dh150,000.

Fine deal

“It is much cheaper to insure your employee [or] dependant than to pay the fine,” said Haidar Al Yousuf, DHA’s Director of Health Funding.

“It’s a very minimum cost which provides health security and stability to individuals,” he added.

Al Yousuf said that the basic coverage package made premiums for elderly dependants far cheaper.

“Similarly, premiums for elderly dependants were extremely expensive before the scheme and are affordable today,” he added.

The Essential Benefit Package can be boosted with optional add-on cover.

The last and final phase in the three-year roll-out for full insurance cover for everyone in Dubai ended on July 31.

However, the DHA extended a six-month grace period, by not linking insurance cover to the visa renewal process until the end of the year.

But penalties are already in place for those companies who fall into the earlier roll out phases (phase 1 and 2) and have not complied with the deadline of the phase.

The DHA’s website, www.isahd.ae, lists 50 insurance companies that provide health insurance choices at different rates.

Nine of these insurance companies have been approved to dispense the bare-bones Essential Benefit Package.

The basic cover includes outpatient consultancy at clinics, referrals to specialist and for surgical and pathology investigations, maternity health cover, emergency visit to hospital and any surgery required as well as medications.

Women who have become pregnant either before or after getting the insurance will be covered for the cost of maternity care.

While employers have group insurance schemes for their employees, a resident can shop for a tailor-made cover for his dependants that include spouse, minors and domestic house help.

Presently, approximately 88 per cent of the population with Dubai visas have mandatory health insurance.

Insurance in numbers

Dh500: the size of the fine to be paid per month, per employee or resident from January 1, 2017

88 per cent: The proportion of Dubai’s population who already have mandatory health insurance

3.4 million: the number of Dubai residents insured by June

50: the number of insurance companies have DHA permit to provide health insurance services in Dubai

9: the number of insurance companies which provide basic health cover to employees earning Dh4,000 and less.

44 million: the number of health insurance services provided to individuals through the health insurance system in Dubai in 2016

Dh6.8 billion: the total cost of the services

32 million: the number of individual diagnosis made in 2015

Dh17.4 million: the value of prescriptions issued

20,602: doctors who have used the Dubai e-claims system.