Every HR executive working for a Small and Medium Enterprise should have July 31, 2015 marked in their calendar. With the deadline for the second phase of Dubai’s Health Insurance Law fast approaching, every company with 100 to 999 employees must purchase health insurance for their team by the end of July. While there are 55 days remaining, if you have not started the process of finding a group plan yet, you really need to start now. If you have 100 or more employees, you will have an abundance of choices when it comes to picking a plan. If you are getting the right advice, you can tailor your group health insurance policy to meet your company’s needs. Of course, the most important factor will probably start with price.
How much does company health insurance cost?
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. The Dubai Health Authority has created the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP) for employees who have a monthly salary of AED 4,000 or less. This is the lowest cost plan available in Dubai; it typically costs around AED 650 per member. This basic plan is available from several insurance companies in the UAE; the benefits are the same no matter whom you choose. To learn more about this plan, you can read our article “A Detailed Look at Dubai’s Basic Health Insurance Scheme.”
For higher-salaried employees, there is an alternative form of the basic plan that costs AED 850 per employee. It provides the minimum level of benefits permitted by the DHA in addition to a very limited medical network. Usually, visits to a hospital are only allowed in emergency cases that require hospitalization. Otherwise, policyholders can select a clinic from about 50 options (a typical, non-basic health insurance plan can have anywhere from 200 to over 500 clinics). Before receiving any medical services, policy members must always consult a General Practitioner beforehand.
Outside these basic plans, a company can usually find a group plan that provides comprehensive medical benefits for AED 1,500 to AED 5,500 per member. While this may seem like a wide range, the higher the premium, the better the benefits and network of hospitals & clinics.
Tiered medical benefits
One of the most common ways companies minimize medical insurance costs in the UAE is to establish separate categories of benefits for groups of employees. For example, a company can divide members into three groups (Category A, B and C) and provide a different level of benefits to each group. While this may seem unfair, there are several reasons why it could make sense.
Firstly, not every employee may require the same benefits. For example, if some policy members travel abroad frequently, then finding a health insurance policy with international cover might only be important for those individuals. A policy with coverage in Europe or North America can be significantly more expensive, so it might make sense to provide such benefits to employees depending on their roles and travel requirements.
As an HR professional, it is important to be realistic about your company’s needs and requirements. If employees only travel internationally once or twice a year, then buying a plan with worldwide coverage is probably not your best option. Rather, buying travel insurance for your colleagues when they need to travel is much more affordable.
Where your employees live is another consideration when looking at a tiered plan. The hospital & clinic network has a dramatic effect on the premium; the more facilities you want in your policy, the more expensive it is. Many people tend to visit hospitals & clinics in the areas they live. Unfortunately, when it comes to health insurance, you can not select specific facilities. Rather, most insurance companies in the UAE have ready-made networks you can choose from. Typically, the lowest cost networks include most of the clinics in Al Quoz, Al Qusais, Bur Dubai and Jebel Ali. So if you have many employees who live in these areas, it might not make a difference to them if you decide to buy them a health insurance plan with a network that covers all of Dubai (and you will end up paying at least twice the premium).
The cost of group health insurance in the UAE has been steadily rising over the last few years. On the other hand, medical benefits have become an important criteria for many job candidates. This has only made balancing employee wellness with budgets more difficult. All too often, employees complain about their medical insurance policies – even though the HR team worked so hard to find a comprehensive plan! So before you buy health insurance for your company, make sure you are taking a practical approach. Try to learn about the habits of your employees and you will be surprised to find that you may be paying for specific benefits they do not actually need.
More importantly, you need to find the right partner to help you select the right plan by giving you transparent and unbiased advice. The first step is as easy as applying here.