Dubai: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will continue accepting health insurance applications in 2017 due to the massive rush by residents to buy insurance packages in the last few days of the year.

This is the second extension of deadline by the authorities in order to give enough time to the remaining people still without insurance, who number around 80,000. However, the new deadline has not yet been specified.

Dubai residents who fail to secure mandatory health insurance cover will face a fine of Dh500 per month. Apart from the fine, no new visa will be granted and no existing visas renewed without health insurance, according to Dubai Health Authority rules.

In a statement to Gulf News, the DHA said: “The Dubai Health Authority has made the decision due to the high influx of customers flocking to insurance companies in the last few days and in consideration to those who were not able to get the insurance in time due to one circumstance or other.”

Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, director of Health Funding at DHA, said all insurance companies are working non-stop to cope with the number of companies and individuals coming to get the health insurance. He added that there has also been a large number of online transactions on the insurance companies’ websites.

More than four million — 98 per cent — of Dubai residents are now covered under the Dubai health insurance system.

The initial deadline for Phase 3 of the health insurance coverage, which applies to dependents, spouses and domestic workers, was to end on June 30, 2016, but a grace period of six months until December 31 was provided.

The Dubai Health Insurance Law No. 11 of 2013 was adopted under the directives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

According to the Dubai Health Insurance Law that came into effect in January 2014, the legal liability for every sponsor is to provide an essential insurance package — fixed between Dh550 and Dh700 — so that those with salaries under Dh4,000 receive adequate cover.

In an earlier interview with Gulf News, Dr Al Yousuf had said that those who haven’t purchased a health insurance for their employees and dependents are already in violation of the law. He also said that what is being extended is only the deadline on penalties.

The law was designed to make sure the entire system is sustainable and no one party falls short of cash as a result of having to pay for health care, he added.

The Essential Benefit Package (EBP) ranges from Dh565 to Dh650 — which is not much more than the cost of a single month’s fine.

“The government has ensured that there are affordable packages in the market, starting from Dh600. With around Dh2,000, the dependents can all be insured. It is an affordable amount. The essential benefit plan covers doctors’ visits, referral to specialists, surgical operations, maternity, emergency services, investigations, medication and all benefits required,” he had told Gulf News.