Abu Dhabi: Even though at least 194 clinics and hospitals offer free oral health and dental care since health insurance became mandatory for expatriates three years ago, companies prefer to offer their employees basic health insurance plans that exclude oral health coverage.
When Gulf News spoke to the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad) about the issue, a health insurance expert who wished to remain anonymous explained that Haad's role as regulator is structured around verification and approval of schedule of benefits of insurance policies.
There are currently 35 health insurance companies registered with Haad, who all offer free oral health care.
"Oral health and dental coverage is available in many insurance products that Haad has approved and launched in July, but the choice and decision for Abu Dhabi residents between various insurance policies remains with the buyer," he said.
As per 2010 Haad records, there are 569,000 Emiratis with full access to oral health care through the Thiqa dental coverage plan, which has been especially designed for Emiratis in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Asked what Haad is doing to help ensure expatriates receive similar health insurance benefits, the Haad official said: "Since the mandate of health care coverage to residences of Abu Dhabi, Haad has implemented strict enforcement policy to ensure compliance with the new regulations which grant health coverage for all residents of Abu Dhabi.... Since June 2007 to date, the Haad inspection team has handled 2,349 complaints."
HAAD statistics for 2009
There are currently:
- 5,142 physicians, 8,142 nurses and 5,630 health professionals in 1,077 licensed facilities, including:
- 39 hospitals (3'621 beds)
- 572 centres and clinics
- 467 pharmacies and stores
- 5,000 additional doctors and 6,500 nurses will be required by 2019 since healthcare demand exceeds supply
- If churn rates remain at their 2009 level, this will require some 1,600 doctors and almost 1,800 nurses to be recruited annually.