There will be no back-dated fines for Dubai visa holders who did not get health insurance by January’s deadline which was later extended to March 31, said a senior official from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) as the final deadline is just a week away.
The new deadline for Dubai’s mandatory health insurance has been set as March 31 for employees and their families and December 31 for visitors, according to an Executive Council Resolution issued by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council on February 20.
“This is the final extension and all fines and insurance gaps that come after March 31 will be charged by immigration authorities,” said Dr Haider Al Yousuf, Director of Health Funding.
“We have had the maximum people insured until now which is 4.3 million. Only a few are still left,” he told Khaleej Times. He said that those who still do not obtain insurance will be fined as per the law and there are no more extensions.
Also, following a feedback from residents and policyholders, Dubai’s insurance programme has been extended to Sharjah and other emirates except Abu Dhabi, which has its own health policy.
The DHA has mandated insurance companies to make sure they cover Sharjah and the Northern Emirates. The recent order came into effect after the authority received feedback from policyholders. Previously, it was optional and therefore some companies did not offer insurance coverage outside Dubai, said a senior official from the DHA.
Dr Haider said that the move is a positive one for the health insurance industry, the health sector and for policyholders.
“Many Dubai resident visa-holders live in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates. This mandate ensures they have coverage in the emirate they live in so that they can access healthcare when they need it at a location that is convenient to them,” he said. Majority of the insurance companies offering the Essential Benefits Plan have already upgraded their coverage to include other emirates.
Dr Al Yousuf added that it would be more cost-effective for insurance companies to provide coverage in the northern emirates.
In February, Khaleej Times highlighted the plight of residents who said that though the premiums were high, they would have to travel to Dubai for treatment, which was not practical. Dr Al Yousuf also advised people that they should research their health insurance policy properly before opting to purchase it.
Most complaints received over the last year by the DHA’s Health Funding Department pertaining to health insurance reflect a trend where people have bought a particular health policy without really understanding its exclusions and the network of health facilities it covers.
He said that there are enough options available in the market and people can top-up their essential cover. He stressed that the first step to buying insurance is to understand the policy, its inclusions and exclusions.
Premiums for basic packages range from Dh550 to Dh700 and there are always options available to top-up this basic insurance cover. At present, 98 per cent of the population in Dubai is insured.
Know the plan before you insure
People should educate themselves about the policy they intend to buy, said Dr Haider Al Yousuf, Director of Health Funding at the DHA.
The DHA’s website, www.isahd.ae, has the list of 50 companies, of which nine companies provide the basic package. The market has a good range of options and people need to select what is most suitable for them. They can get comparative quotes before they buy their health insurance. The website has recently been updated with clearer options for those looking to buy a policy.
“They should research the hospitals and clinics under the network of a particular insurance company and buy cover only when they are convinced that the policy meets their needs,” he said.