The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has announced details about the roll-out plan for its recently-passed mandatory health insurance law, following a meeting with insurance companies in the emirate.
Implementation of the new ruling has been spread out over two years, depending on the size of the company, official news agency WAM reported.
Companies with 1000 or more employees will have to cover their staff before the end of October 2014, those with 100 to 999 employees have until the end of July 2015 and firms with less than 100 employees will need to provide health insurance to their staff before the end of June 2016.
All spouses, dependents and domestic workers will also have to be covered by June 2016, the DHA said.
The new law, endorsed by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, stipulates that it is the responsibility of employers to provide all their employees with health insurance schemes.
Once implemented, residency visas will not be granted unless applicants have a valid health insurance.
Impact on employers
Dr Haider Al Yousuf, director of Health Funding at DHA said that the move would only have a “minimum impact” on employers in terms of cost.
“On an average, health insurance costs 1.5 per cent of the monthly salary. For example, if an employer pays Dhs10,000 per month in salaries, if he adds Dhs150 per month, it covers the cost of health insurance.
“This is a minimum impact, adequate benefit plan; clearly the benefits outweigh the minimum costs involved. The scheme protects both employers and employees from unforeseen health care costs that can arise out of an illness or an emergency.”
Under the law, companies are only obliged to cover their employees, but the DHA urged employers to cover the dependents of their staff as well.
“It is a known fact that covering dependents of employees directly leads to greater employee satisfaction and better productivity,” he said.
All the companies that want to provide health insurance services in Dubai will have to procure a health insurance permit, stated Al Yousuf.
“Insurance companies interested in providing the essential health benefits (EHB) package to resident employees with salaries below Dhs4,000 will have to undergo further qualifying criteria to ascertain their ability to provide an insurance package at an affordable rate,” he said.
“The premium for this package will range between Dhs500-700 per person per year and it will cover emergency care, access to general physician(GP)/family physicians, referral to specialists, tests and investigations, surgical procedures and maternity care.
“All the necessary health requirements will be covered by this package,” he stated.
The process of obtaining a health insurance permit began in October this year and is expected to be completed by January 2014. The DHA will soon announce a list of the approved companies.
Those who already have the permit will start providing insurance within the next few weeks.
Essa Al Maidoor, director-general of the DHA, said: “The health insurance mandate will provide a significant boost to the health insurance industry, it will attract investment in the health care sector and will generate healthy competition between providers as well as health facilities.
“This only means further improvement in the quality of health services as well as more health care options and competitive premium prices. The mandate will benefit all the concerned stakeholders- this includes insurance providers, health care facilities and most importantly patients.
“Our aim is to provide everyone in Dubai with access to essential health cover and to empower them by providing them with the right to choose their health provider within the private or public sector.”
Currently, only a third of the city’s population of three million is insured.