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    Health insurance must in Dubai from 2014

    Health officials say resident or entry visas will not be processed unless the compulsory health insurance plan is submitted.

    From early next year, all residents and visitors to Dubai will be required to have a compulsory health insurance cover to be provided by their employers or sponsors.

    At a glance

    > Compulsory health insurance to be provided by employers/sponsors to all residents starting 2014

    > No visas to be issued in absence of health insurance

    > UAE nationals to be covered by the government

    > Health insurance will cover essential medical services including emergency, maternity, surgical etc

    > Visit visa holders can access emergency services only

    > 40 insurance companies registered with DHA to offer affordable healthcare packages that can be upgraded if required

    > Fines starting from Dh500 to Dh500,000 for violators

    Health officials said on Tuesday that resident or entry visas will not be processed unless the compulsory health insurance plan is submitted.

    Roughly, two million people in the Emirate are expected to benefit from this scheme, including blue-collar workers, many of whom are currently without any basic health cover. Nearly a million people in Dubai are already insured.

    While the health cover for the UAE nationals will be provided by the government, employers will be responsible for resident expatriate workers and their dependents. Those sponsoring their wives and children will have to buy individual health packages separately. Domestic workers will also have to be covered.

    With this scheme, Dubai will be second emirate in the country to provide compulsory health insurance cover to residents. Currently, only the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad) has successfully been operating a similar model for its residents since 2005.

    The initially planned health-funding model should have been rolled out over four years between 2009 and 2012 but was deferred when the financial crisis hit in 2008. Now, however, the scheme will be extended to all in a phased process in two-and-a-half years until 2016.

    “It is a very dynamic policy and it is going to drive economic investment in the emirate as well as provide quality healthcare services, happiness and satisfaction to all residents,” said Engineer Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

    “Health insurance is a form of security and it is important for every individual to know that if he needs access to healthcare, it is easily available,” he added.

    Every Emirati’s benefit package will include provision of preventive and curative health services based on DHA’s policies. The package for residents requires that the health insurance coverage offered by the employer/sponsor should not be less than the ‘essential benefits package’. A co-payment has to be made by the insured to access services such as maternity, emergency, surgical procedures, etc, but will not include procedures such as cosmetic surgeries.

    Visitors to Dubai will only be able to access emergency services.

    At a later stage, the health card will be replaced by the insurance card which will be accepted by all government hospitals.

    The officials also announced details of the Health Insurance Law for Dubai that was recently approved by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Violators will be slapped with fines ranging from Dh500 to Dh500,000.

    Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, Director of Health Funding at the DHA, said that the Dubai model was structured after studying 12 health systems across the region and world. “We studied models in Switzerland, Holland, Singapore and around the region as well before settling for this affordable plan for Dubai,” he said.

    “With this model, out-of-pocket spending will be limited hence benefitting people and offering quality healthcare,” he added.

    “In the case of UAE nationals, they shall receive insurance cards to replace the existing DHA health cards and will continue to have access to all current healthcare services provided by the DHA and various private healthcare providers,” explained Dr Haider.

    “For residents, the health insurance law sets forth the employer’s responsibility to secure insurance to cover the employees he sponsors. The 1.5 per cent premium of an employee’s salary will not place a burden on employers.”

    He also said the law applied to domestic employees as well, all of whom will receive essential health coverage and the cost will have to be borne by the employer.

    Under the law, only registered insurance companies will be able to provide insurance schemes and packages. Currently, 500,000 claims per month are being submitted while the DHA has consulted and engaged over 700 public and private medical establishments, over 50 insurance companies, liaised with over six Dubai’s largest hospitals and visited 12 countries.

    (Khaleej Times)

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