In the UAE, health insurance is mandatory regardless of age or profession. However, insurance companies have the right to increase and decrease premiums based on a variety of factors they deem relevant. The elderly are forced to pay higher premiums as their old age is usually linked to more illnesses requiring frequent treatment. As such, elderly investors are opting for basic packages more than ever just so they can meet their visa requirements without having to pay huge premiums out of pocket. Some are also looking into regional and global packages for cost-effective comprehensive plans, whilst others who have chosen a basic package have opted to pay for certain medical services out of pocket. For dependent elderly expats, comprehensive insurance packages start at 4,100 AED. However, those with independent businesses can opt for the basic 1000 AED package to obtain an investor visa.
Many elderly expats looking for comprehensive insurance packages are often met with a baseline of 6,000 AED – 8,000 AED, which doesn’t take their medical history and pre-existing conditions into account. That figure can spike all the way up to 100,000 AED if the patient has a history of filing claims or has pre-existing conditions that require heavy medical treatment. Thus, expats are forced to use the basic AED 1,000 health plan that doesn’t include many medical services, medicines or hospital stays.
In one case, an expat from Pakistan, Naveed Seddiqui, contacted several insurance companies looking for a package for her 67-year old mom. The lowest quote she received was a basic plan for AED 18,500 and the highest was AED 25,000, which was prior to reviewing any pre-existing conditions. They too decided to opt for the basic health insurance plan of AED 1000 and will now have to pay for medical fees out of pocket. Since her mother has a pre-existing condition that requires her to get monthly check-ups, buying a comprehensive insurance plan was not an option.
Not all insurers offer packages to those aged 60 and above. The ones that do charge very high premiums and often require a medical test when filing an application. The examinations are also significantly expensive but deemed necessary to fully understand all the complications behind insuring an elderly customer. There is a standard rate offered to those who are sponsored under their children’s visa. For those who own businesses, they are restricted to comprehensive plans or group health insurance plans. The difficulty associated with getting a comprehensive plan stems from the perceived risk associated with their medical requirements.
According to Dr. Yasser Khalifa, the Executive Vice President of Oman Insurance Company, the company doesn’t decline mandatory health coverage based on age. However, the number of people insured who are 60+ and older is very small. Ultimately, age is one of the key considerations in determining premiums. The elderly tend to have more chronic diseases, pre-existing conditions and other health risks that require more frequent treatment. Insurers factor this in when pricing and usually end up with a premium that is unaffordable.