An Overwhelmed Insurance Sector
An unintended consequence of mandatory health insurance has been the commoditization 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. Keeping up with a demand hike of this level is no small feat for any industry, especially when insurance seekers and sponsors alike faced fines for non-compliance by a set deadline. As of the beginning of 2017, over 4 million people – a whopping 98% of the emirates’ population – have been signed up for health insurance.
Initially announced in 2014 and intended to be rolled-out in 3 phases, the law was intended to be fully implemented by June 2016 – with companies having fewer than 100 employees as the final ones needing to comply. However, due to the fact that there are 135,000 companies with fewer than 100 employees in Dubai and only about 40% of those had health insurance schemes before the law was announced, some grace periods were put in place. The Dubai Health Authority has been lenient on their deadlines as the high influx of customers applying for health insurance has made it difficult to insurance providers to keep up with the demand for first-time applicants, let alone provide support to existing insured individuals. With this city-wide rush, how did providers and brokers do what they did?
Digitalization of the Industry
The on-going digitalisation of the health insurance product portfolio has come a long way since the announcement of mandatory health insurance in Dubai. One key insurance provider in the country, Takaful Emarat, launched its online portal in 2016. This enabled applicants to purchase and issue their health insurance online from a desktop or through a smartphone. Furthermore, these newly empowered customers could even access and manage their policies online – without ever speaking to another person. We at Bayzat even partnered with Takaful Emarat with regards to digitalizing their product portfolio through our online platform. This kind of tech-centric effort from health insurance providers was not the first – nor will it be the last as they pursue digital strategy perfection to empower their customers.
The Visionary UAE Government
The UAE’s visionary and supportive government has also played an important part in making it all possible. Taking it upon themselves to promote innovative initiatives and reward entrepreneurial efforts, government bodies have largely contributed to the success of the pioneering initiative. In regards to utilising innovation in the health insurance sector, the DHA has electronic systems in place to ensure that people are protected, have access to their health plans, and understand how to use it. The DHA has also designed a complaints portal called iPROmes, which allows any person who is not satisfied with the services provided by his health insurance company to reach the government directly.
The Rise of (Digital) Brokers and Agents!
Furthermore, the huge load of tackling the surge in demand of health insurance applications was in part handled by brokers and agents (of which there are 162!) in the country. These third-party operators reduce the stress on TPAs and insurance providers by providing valuable mediating services to individuals and businesses alike. The rise of price comparison platforms and the possibility of online quote requests has made it possible to distribute, handle, and process large volumes of information without overloading the insurance providers and creating time-consuming bottlenecks.
Things to Keep in Mind for the March 31st Deadline.
With the newest deadline right around the corner, it is best to remember that as companies are not obliged to cover the dependents of their employees, that task may fall on the sponsors of their families and domestic workers. The penalties incurred for non-compliance will be retroactive – and thus applied for every month that the dependent was uninsured at a rate of AED500 per month. Having the rates for some basic packages starting at AED550, it wouldn’t be sound to ignore the risks and face the fines. To register your employees or dependents for a brand new plan, or to find a more suitable one, try the price comparison platform on our website. We’ll not only help you find the ideal policy that meets your needs, we’ll also guide you through the entire process.