Choosing the Right Health Insurance in Dubai & UAE

Wherever you live in the UAE, having the right health insurance in place is paramount for obvious reasons. However; don’t be misled because different Emirates have different rules so it’s a good idea to get a handle on what’s available where you live.  Obviously, there is a lot to consider in making sure you get the right cover.

The Difference in Emirates

As an example, if you live in Abu Dhabi, all employers must provide private medical insurance to employees and their families.  However, there are exceptions.  If you have a large family, it is up to your employer whether or not they choose to insure extra children. For example, if you have more than 4 children, your employer is not at liberty to insure your fifth child or any further children.  You would need to speak to your employer for guidance because some employers will happily ensure larger families whereas others will not.

In Dubai, employers must pay for health insurance for employees and all immediate family (insurance should include maids for example) must also be covered for basic health insurance.  However, the responsibility for family and domestic servants lies with the sponsor rather than the employer – so do check first. In parts of the Northern Emirates, employers do not need to provide health cover for employees or their families.   They can of course, choose to provide medical cover but it is not law.

What are Basic Medical Plans in the UAE?

Under the basic plans in the UAE, all employees are at liberty to pay half of the insurance policy’s premium for their family.  They also must bear all of the cost for parents, if included.  In Abu Dhabi, the maximum cover per person is Dh250,000.  This is not a huge amount and may not cover all the expense of emergency or ongoing treatment.  Employers can contribute more for a higher level of premium if they wish, but they are under no obligation to do so.

Dubai has their Essential Benefits Plan and this is cover that is provided by 12 medical health companies.  The maximum cover per person annually is Dh150,000.  Again, this is not a huge amount of cover and would probably not pay for ongoing treatment or emergency treatment.  Employers can contribute more but they do not have to.

If you want additional benefits, it is best to add these on yourself as employers are not at liberty to provide cover for eye care, vaccinations or dentistry.  Bear in mind, you cannot usually add to a health insurance policy in the middle of the year.

What about Insuring the Whole Family on the Same Plan?

You don’t have to insure your entire family on the same plan.  Most health insurers in Dubai, for example offer compliant plans for additional children or to add a spouse at a later date.  There are always exceptions to the rule though and some companies require that the whole family be insured under the same plan.  It is best to check coverage first.

What about Pregnancy?

Dubai and Abu Dhabi law states that all women that are married must have maternity cover under their insurance plan.  Visa-holders must have delivery covered for up to Dh7,000.  Caesarean sections should also be covered up to Dh10,000. It is best to apply for maternity cover pre-pregnancy because if a woman is not covered and then requests coverage, the medical insurance company could apply a much higher premium with up to Dh15,000 difference!  Bear in mind, emergency pregnancy costs can be huge so your insurance might not cover you for everything.

Are Newborns Automatically Covered?

In Dubai and Abu Dhabi newborns are covered under the mother’s insurance from 30 days post-birth but do check your level of cover because the cost of birth and post-natal care may well have used up your quota.  It’s best to apply for insurance as soon as your baby is born.

Insuring Parents

It can be expensive to insure parents age 50+ and the cost can be as much as Dh30,000.  There is a cut-off age of 65 and some insurers can even refuse to cover pre-existing conditions or stop insuring altogether.  Sometimes, there is a waiting period of up to 2 years to cover pre-existing conditions.  A family plan might be more cost-efficient in this case.

Insuring Domestic Workers

Maid insurance must be completed by his or her sponsor (usually the head of the household).  Most families select minimal plans for domestic workers and basic plans start at just Dh650.

Choosing an Insurance Plan

It’s useful to ask your local UAE Doctor for a list of the health best insurers or visit isahd.ae which lists all registered medical insurers in the UAE.  To compare plans visit compareit4me.co or souqual.al.com to get the best deal.  Never just select a basic plan as healthcare is important and costly without the right insurance in place.

As a final note, do your homework first and shop around but don’t leave it too late as medical care in the UAE is very expensive.