Dr Haider Al Yousuf, director of health funding at Dubai Health Authority: “The fine will be imposed on employers/sponsors, not employees” Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Fines for Dubai residents who do not have mandatory health insurance will be added to their visa renewal and cancellation fees of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs with effect from April 1, a top official has said.

Reminding all residents that they must secure the mandatory cover before the extended deadline ends on March 31, Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, director of health funding at Dubai Health Authority, said, “The fine will be imposed on sponsors and employers, and not the employees. 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.”

Coverage for visitors must also be provided by December 31, 2017 as per the new Executive Council Resolution No 6, 2017, endorsed by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.

Last minute rush

What can residents who have not yet got their health insurance in place do in the last minute?

As Robin Ali, head of practice at Consilient, said, “Doing nothing is not the answer. Visa applications will be denied if family members do not have cover when they come to apply or renew. It may be better for a family to obtain whatever cover they can at whatever price they can afford ahead of the deadline and then spend time over the following 12 months researching more suitable options so that at renewal time, they can switch to a better plan.”

Main challenges

The process is not without challenges. Ali said, “Insurance brokers are available to advise buyers of health insurance and generally receive commissions from the insurer when they place business with a company they recommend.

However, the advice process requires a similar amount of knowledge and research to source the most suitable product whether it is for a family or for an employer with many employees. This makes advising individuals, families and small companies unattractive for brokers.

This also leaves families with the challenge of either undertaking the research of products and prices themselves by visiting numerous insurer websites, making many phone calls to insurers or using some of the new aggregator websites that compare insurance products and prices. So families and small businesses are reliant upon their own understanding of complex products rather than benefitting from the advice of experts in insurance matters.”

Rajesh Mirchandani, director, Pioneer Wealth Management, said, “The single biggest challenge before insurers is the issuance of cards. Due to the high volume of cards to be issued, there is a very large backlog. Most clients opt for medical insurance in the last days of the deadline creating a bottleneck for insurers.” According to Tarek Bayaa, chief commercial officer at Bayzat, an unintended consequence of mandatory health insurance has been the commoditisation of health plans. What was once seen as an additional benefit for some key employees has become mandatory for all employees – naturally leading to a massive increase in demand for the health insurance industry.

Bayaa said there is a discrepancy between the plans offered by employers and their employees’ expectations thereof.

To bridge the gap, a detailed evaluation of the requirements must be made. It is important to identify the right policy and opt for a digitised product portfolio that is flexible, convenient and easy to use, he added.

Currently, family packages start from Dh650 and policies for the elderly from Dh2,500 per year.

Twelve insurance companies provide the Essential Benefits Plan insurance package, ranging between Dh550 and Dh750, so that those with salaries under Dh4,000 receive adequate cover.

The 12 companies are: Noor Takaful Insurance, Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company and Union Insurance, Axa Gulf Insurance, Takaful Emarat, Dar Al Takaful, Orient Insurance, Ras Al Khaimah Insurance Company, Daman Health Insurance, Oman Insurance Company, Metlife and National General Insurance.

For more details, go to http://www.isahd.ae/Home/PermittedInsurers