When health insurance for foreign nationals was made mandatory in 2008 in UAE, Dubai was expected to follow suit. Currently, that decision has been kept firmly on hold, chiefly due to financial concerns.
Media reports how expats in need of medical attention in Dubai have to endure long waits to see a doctor, presented with huge medical bills to settle, and that the health sector in general lacks sufficient funding to be able to provide a better service. In general the quality of the healthcare provided in Dubai is up to Western or European standards, and it is more so in the healthcare facilities of the private sector. However, the free access to medical services allowed by the government to qualifying individuals has had the effect that doctors are overworked, and the facilities and amenities in general are under pressure due to heavy usage.
It is believed that the compulsory health insurance for expatriates plan is just on hold, and likely to be implemented once Dubai once again enjoys a robust economy. For the time being, expats working legitimately in Dubai can apply for a health card issued by the Ministry of Health, which provides access to the state system in case of a medical emergency, plus fairly low-cost access to all the general healthcare services. The validity of the aforementioned card is one year. Private medical insurance provides access to the better healthcare facilities offered by private hospitals and clinics, and most expats are encouraged to get this type of medical cover. Expats may be offered access to a corporate medical scheme or medical insurance at a discount by their employer, as part of their benefits package.
When seeking medical attention it is important to know that the corresponding costs vary depending on the type of medical facilities. As an example, a private medical facility will not accept a health card issued by the Dubai Health Ministry to cover treatment costs, and the charges themselves are likely to be higher than those at a state facility. Conversely, a state facility will most likely refuse treatment, unless in an emergency, to a person who is privately insured.
The health insurance in Dubai works in different levels such as:
- Family Plans explains that if something was to happen to a family member their medical costs will be taken care of.
- Individual Plan tailors individual medical insurance plans to meet specific needs of anyone. The plans are generally flexible and guaranteed renewable for life and provides one with the freedom of choice on the doctor or hospital that one want to visit.
- Group Plans caters to the world of business today where business executives are often required to travel extensively as part of their jobs. The fundamental purpose of any type of insurance is to replace or compensate economic loss in contingencies. Group Insurance provides insurance protection to a number of individuals as a class or group under a single contract. The insurance contract in such cases is negotiated between the employer and the insurance company. Group Insurance prevents an employee's family from being abruptly cut off without funds.
- Travel Plans are for those travelling away from Dubai for less than 12 months or visiting Dubai for a short period of time.
Pacific Prime is an international health insurance brokerage specialised in providing health insurance for expatriates working and living in the UAE. Pacific Prime provides all the above plans.
Alliance Insurance, with more than 30 years presence in the Gulf region, offers Group Life Insurance and Personal Accident Insurance as part of their health insurance policies.
Personal Accident Policies usually provide you cover against accident death and disability only. One of the first of its kind, this optional benefit pays out the full sum assured selected in the case of death due to natural or accidental causes.
The personal accident insurance includes Permanent Total Disability, which guarantees to pay a lump-sum amount equal to 100% of the Sum Assured after 12 consecutive months of permanent and total disability. The Accident Disability Income works by providing you with a weekly income thus replacing the income lost due to the accident. The payments are made, starting from the first day of disability, up to a maximum of two full years (104 weeks). The Medical Expense Reimbursement (Due To Accident) provides you and your family with total protection against the costs of reasonable, customary and necessary medical treatment in or out of hospital. Treatments covered include physician office visits, prescription medicines, ambulance costs, physiotherapy, hospital room and board, nursing and surgical charges. The Cash Care Hospitalisation Benefit (Due To Accident & Sickness) allows you to obtain cash payments in the event of you or your family members being hospitalized. The cash will be paid daily as selected from the first day of confinement up to 1 year (52 weeks). This benefit will be paid even if the hospital concerned provides free treatment. The accident annuity plan guarantees a monthly cheque for a maximum period of twenty years for your spouse or your nominated beneficiaries should you lose your life in an accident. In the case of permanent total disability also, the insured will be paid a guaranteed income for a period of 20 years.
Repatriation Benefit This kind of insurance benefit allows for expenses incurred in returning the body to the deceased's home country to be reimbursed to your family, the benefit applies only to those cases where death occurred by natural or accidental causes not exceeding the maximum amount.
The AXA International Healthcare Series includes international plans, which allow you to choose to have treatment anywhere in the world or at the best known hospitals in the AGCC. In addition there is no deductible to pay, even for out-patient treatment and you get higher limits on most of the benefits. The AXA Regional plans cover you for treatment in Middle East as well as the major trading nations of the Indian sub-continent and South-East Asia. The plan introduces key elements of the Global Plans such as complementary therapies, health screens, dental cover, vaccination for children and International Emergency Medical Assistance. The Local plan is specifically designed for those who want the reassurance and security of a substantial overall yearly limit for unexpected high value treatment at a minimal premium. The health insurance usually covers treatment for cases of maternity, dental, optical, general cancer care, annual Breast Cancer Screening, annual Prostate Cancer Screening and has a yearly limit of AED 500,000.
In addition to the general categories, there are insurance companies which offer specialised insurance plans to teachers. Expat Medical Insurance can provide you with a range of international comprehensive insurance plans that offer discounts for teachers and staff of any international school. The coverage includes reconstructive surgery, scans and physiotherapy and the like in addition to other facilities.