New health insurance law finally agreed in Dubai

by Ray Clancy on December 3, 2013

Health insurance will become mandatory in Dubai for everyone from next year including expats and visitors.

Employers will be responsible for the health insurance of their employees, whilst the government will be responsible for health insurance of United Arab Emirates (UAE) nationals and visitors will need to provide proof of insurance if they need treatment.


A health insurance card will be valid for one year and will have to be renewed annually

Preventative health care is currently not part of the new law but this is likely to change when more details are made public.

Mandatory health insurance was introduced in neighbouring Abu Dhabi in 2006 and official data showed there was a 62% compound annual growth rate in outpatient claims between 2007 and 2010. It also recorded a corresponding 29% growth rate in inpatient visits.

The new law applies to the entire emirate of Dubai, including the development areas and free zones.  It will require companies to directly buy private health insurance for their staff and it is the responsibility of the employer or sponsor to enroll all employees in to the mandatory health insurance scheme and to insure the scheme is up to date and valid at all times.

Violations of the law will risk a minimum fine of Dh500 and a maximum fine of Dh150,000, while those with repeat offences could be hit with fines of up to Dh500,000.

Under the current plan, a health insurance card will be valid for one year and will have to be renewed annually.

The long awaited scheme will also cover employees’ spouses and children for as long as they live in the emirate. Having valid health insurance will become a requirement for residency visas.

‘Health insurance is a form of security and it is very important for every individual to know that if he needs access to health care it is easily available,’ said Essa Al Maidoor, director general of the Dubai Health Authority.

‘The law is fundamental to ensure smooth delivery of basic health insurance to everyone living in the emirate, which roughly means more than three million people, including nationals and residents with Dubai visas,’ he added.

Al Maidoor said the DHA had studied 12 of the best health insurance systems in the world and he believes that it will take about three years for the population to be fully covered. Currently around a third are insured.

Coverage will be rolled out in phases from next year until the middle of 2016, with all workers requiring at least the essential basic package. It is estimated that the average cost of providing the basic insurance would be about 1.5% of an employee’s salary and employers would have the option to top up the basic package.

Dr Haider Al Yousuf, director of health funding at the authority, said that all Dubai workers will be given insurance cards to replace their DHA cards.

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