The mandatory health insurance law, introduced by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) in November 2013, is just under three months away from its final deadline of June 2016. What does this mean for residents of the emirate?
By June 30, employers with less than 100 employees will have to offer mandatory health insurance to their employees (the first two phases covered companies in Dubai with 100 employees or more). In addition, residents of Dubai will be responsible for insuring their dependents if their company does not do so already. As part of the rollout, proof of health insurance coverage is now required for visa issuances and renewals in the emirate.
Dubai is not the first emirate to embrace such regulation, with Abu Dhabi enforcing mandatory medical insurance since 2012. The Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) also has a well-defined process for ensuring compliance with the law that includes a centralized system for insurance companies and brokers. Sponsors in Abu Dhabi who do not renew their policy in a timely manner face fines up to AED 300 per month.
Who is responsible for health insurance cover?
For companies registered in Dubai, employers have to ensure that their employees are covered before the finale deadline. In turn, employees are responsible for making sure anyone they sponsor has medical coverage as well.
Sponsors have to cover their dependents
Sponsors should ensure that their dependents including spouses, children, parents and domestic helpers are provided with health insurance cover before the deadline. The most basic policy, the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP), costs AED 650 and is available to non-working dependents through some insurers. While the policy is extremely restricted in its benefits, it provides basic maternity cover as well as an annual limit up to AED 150,000. The EBP only covers treatments in Dubai (other Emirates are covered on an emergency basis only). You can read our blog “A Detailed Look at Dubai’s Basic Health Insurance Scheme” for more information.
Penalty for violating the law
In March 2016, authorities issued a resolution that paves the way for the Dubai Health Authority to issue fines & penalties for companies and residents not complying with the mandatory medical insurance law. While the penalties have not been officially published yet, the resolution specifies that companies that are repeat offenders can face fines up to AED 500,000.
Health insurance for the elderly
Medical insurance companies in the UAE have been very reluctant to insure residents over the age of 65. Of the over 100 health plans and tens of insurance companies available on the Bayzat platform, only a handful even cover seniors who are 65 years old or more.
For a completely healthy senior resident, the cheapest comprehensive medical packages are around AED 10,000. However, insurers have shown a trend of increasing the price if any medical condition is stated on the application form, including a slightly high BMI or irregular blood pressure.
The efforts of the DHA have long-term benefits for the UAE’s healthcare and insurance sectors. Fortunately, with the final deadline fast approaching, insurance companies in Dubai have started introducing new products. For example, Takaful Emarat recently introduced a policy that covers non-working dependents over the age of 65 for AED 2,500.
With the cutoff date soon approaching, sponsors need to start comparing medical insurance options. The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) has already started working with the DHA to ensure that neither new visas are issued nor expired ones are renewed unless the applicant has health insurance coverage is in place.
To sum up, buy your medical insurance cover today. With the final deadline only three months away, there is no point in waiting until the last minute. This last phase of the rollout applies to over 80% of companies in Dubai, so there will definitely be a massive influx of applications to insurance companies. The average insurance buying process can take up to 2 weeks, although it is expected to take much longer as June approaches. Therefore, make sure you and your dependents’ health is covered for a happy and peaceful living!