In recent years, Dubai has emerged as one of the leading ex-pat destinations in the world, providing numerous opportunities for professionals seeking greener pastures. To date, foreign nationals outnumber Emiratis by about 90 per cent.
With this trend, it does not come as a surprise that Dubai's laws and regulations have been revamped to make quality healthcare more accessible to its residents.
One area where this is reflected is in its hospitals. In fact, life expectancy in Dubai is on par with (or even better than) that of some Western countries. Furthermore, its hospitals keep abreast with the latest healthcare technologies. This has earned Dubai’s healthcare industry accolades within the region.
Health Insurance in Dubai
Through the initiative of the Dubai Health Authority, new legislation was approved, requiring residents of the emirate (both local and ex-pats, and including their dependents) to have medical insurance.
Emiratis are covered by a government-funded scheme while ex-pats need to get private health insurance. Employers are mandated to provide their employees with health insurance plans. And although the government does not require employers to cover the health insurance of the spouses and children of their employees, they are encouraged to do so.
Dubai provides free initial treatments for all in cases of medical emergencies in its public hospitals. However, further procedures should be paid for either by the patient or his medical insurance provider.
If you are planning on living and working in Dubai, having private health insurance is necessary for a few critical reasons:
- First, if you have a medical emergency, the cost of treatment can be expensive.
- Second, having private health insurance allows you to gain access to private medical facilities. Although Dubai's public hospitals are on par with some of the best hospitals in the world, private facilities offer a few distinct advantages. These benefits include privacy, multilingual staff, and highly-trained specialists.
- Finally, private health insurance is mandatory for ex-pats. Without this, you cannot secure a visa.
Types of Health Insurance in the UAE
Although companies are required to provide their employees with some health insurance coverage, you might want to secure one for yourself and your family. For one, the insurance provided by your company may not be comprehensive. Also, your dependents may need their own coverage.
In the UAE, policies can vary from one another. But broadly speaking, health insurance policies in the country fall under two categories: the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP) and comprehensive health insurance. Here's a brief look at these two to help you make an informed decision.
1. Essential Benefits Plan
The Essential Benefits Plan or EBP has been formulated to ensure that individuals gain access to primary healthcare. This health insurance is overseen by the Dubai Health Authority, which also sets the rates. Insurance providers cannot offer products which go over these fixed rates.
The EBP covers treatments for common ailments, including the associated diagnostics and outpatient treatment. It also includes basic surgical procedures, including maternity services. But beyond these, you will have to pay out of your own pocket.
It is worthwhile to mention that the EBP does not cover the full cost of treatments. Instead, patients need to pay for 30 per cent of the costs of the medicines prescribed to them by their doctors and 20 per cent of the total treatment cost. For severe medical conditions or emergencies, these costs can sometimes be equivalent to a small fortune.
2. Comprehensive health insurance
Even if your employer provides you with basic health coverage, it is worthwhile to consider getting comprehensive health insurance for yourself and your family.
One of the chief advantages of having comprehensive health insurance is that you gain access to a broader range of options when it comes to healthcare providers.
Another advantage is that you can end up saving more money over the long term, especially during emergencies when costs can pile up. This gives you greater peace of mind, knowing that you and your loved ones are fully covered.
Securing a Health Insurance Policy
If you are planning on getting comprehensive health insurance for you and your family, you might find yourself confused by the sheer number of options available.
To help you make the right decision, there are critical steps that you need to undertake.
In order to objectively compare each insurance policy and ensure that your healthcare needs are adequately met, you need to get health insurance quotes from different providers. The best way to do that is to use an insurance comparison website which rounds up policies that are relevant to the parameters that you set.
Make sure that you are honest in filling up the details, especially the part asking for pre-existing medical conditions. Otherwise, you won't be able to get an accurate quote (or worse, you may not be able to make a claim due to dishonesty).
From there, you can make a shortlist of potential providers based on your needs and budget.
The next important thing that you need to check is the list of clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies included in the insurance providers network. This is particularly important if you have specific preferences for healthcare facilities and specialists.
Finally, remember to read the fine print. Specifically, read the sections where the terms excess and deductibles are included. Typically, these are the costs that need to be paid to the insurance company before your medical bills are paid.
Co-insurance costs, on the other hand, refer to the percentage of your medical bill that you will need to shoulder.
Erin Daniyel is the VP for Revenue Operations at Rubicon Project and spokesperson for CompareDubai, an online comparison portal which provides customers with a one-stop platform to compare insurance quotes offered within the UAE. CompareDubai delivers quotations from a number of insurance providers covering a range of products, from Car Insurance to Motorbike, Yacht and Boat, Medical, Life, Business and Home Insurance.
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