Abu Dhabi: Prices of health care services in the emirate of Abu Dhabi will be restructured based on new regulations to be implemented by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad).
Consultations, home visits and one-day care will see prices increase by 25, 14 and 22 per cent respectively while the prices of tests such as blood tests, X-Rays, MRI and CAT scans will decrease by 24 per cent, according to a source in Haad who wished to remain anonymous.
The authority has based its decision on a comprehensive study it conducted across the emirate, which included information showing that 280 services are priced reasonably while 164 are above the market price. The study is currently 85 per cent complete.
When asked by Gulf News, health care providers expressed concern at the new decision, citing the rising costs of medical equipment, among other issues.
"If prices are reduced for certain tests, such as radiology, then it will not be cost-effective for some of them to be done on site. This is due to the rising cost of equipment, consumables such as film and helium for MRIs, and maintenance," Dr Ezzat Agamy, director of the Lifeline Hospital Group, said.
In addition to the price reshuffling, the Haad will implement a new electronic system and replace the current contract used between health care providers, insurance companies and the authority with a new, inclusive contract for all.
"The new e-system will help us streamline our services, serve our patients faster and receive reimbursements in a timely manner because the pre-approval is already in the system, so there is no need to review or check the claims submitted," Agamy said.
"The new, standardised contract between health care providers and insurance companies will put everyone on the same page, which is fair since regardless where a patient visits, a medical service is a medical service unless other factors are involved such as in-patient treatment," he added.
A new law addressing the discrepancies faced by patients and health care providers due to delay tactics by insurance companies is also expected to be announced, a senior government official told Gulf News.
As part of the new law, insurance companies will be given a 45-day period to pay outstanding amounts. If they do not, patients and health care providers can file a complaint against them with the authorities.
"The Ministry of Finance and representatives from insurance companies are currently in discussions to address the problems being faced due to this issue…once talks are complete, the new law will balance the needs of the health insurance companies, patients and health care providers," Fatima Ishaq Al Awadi, director general of the National Insurance Authority, said.
"We have received many complaints about insurance companies who are trying to avoid paying for certain treatments such as dentistry procedures or those being treated for life-threatening illnesses due to the increase in their prices," she said. However, doctors in the capital were wary of the new law's effectiveness.
"We are facing difficulties with insurance companies in regard to payment…I receive a lot of rejections when I input certain codes and, after contacting them, I am told it is because the code has changed…because of such tactics, many doctors are now requesting that their patients pay and then fill out a reimbursement form," a gynaecology and venereology specialist said.