UAE employees not receiving adequate health cover – survey

Despite the mandatory health insurance policy in Dubai, many employees do not receive the kind of benefits they require, finds Cigna survey

Sponsored: Health insurance recently became mandatory for every resident in Dubai, with companies and sponsors obliged to provide cover for their dependents. With a similar rule already in place in Abu Dhabi, many in the UAE are required under law to have health insurance.

However, the healthcare cover provided by employers is often not adequate to meet the requirements of their staff, a recent survey has found.

There is a “growing gap” between employees’ healthcare insurance needs and the benefits offered by employers in the UAE, according to the 2017 360O Well-Being survey conducted by insurance provider Cigna.

It found that 45 per cent of respondents claimed to pay for their own medical expenses, compared to 35 per cent that have employer-provided insurance cover.

While consultations are covered by work insurance, there is larger gap for hospitalisation benefits.

For example, 52 per cent of respondents said that they consider hospitalisation as part of a ‘basic coverage’ whereas only 42 per cent of respondents said this was actually included in their work insurance.

The gap was found to be even wider for dental benefits – while 28 per cent of respondents said that they had a dental exam in the past year, only 17 per cent have dental benefits covered by their employer’s insurance.

In the event of an unexpected medical incident, self-purchased insurance (46 per cent) and one’s own savings (40 per cent) are seen as the major sources of funding.

Not surprisngly, the survey revealed that UAE residents have “significant” financial health concerns with close to 50 per cent worried that they are unable to pay for their family’s or own medical expenses.

The situation is more concerning because of the rise of chronic illnesses in the UAE.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the most common health problem in the country – for both Emiratis and expatriates – is cardiovascular disease.

In Dubai, it is estimated that 30 per cent of deaths are caused by heart disease.

“There is clearly a need for a greater focus on wellness,” according to Cigna, which launched a new phase of operations in the Middle East after acquiring Zurich Insurance Middle East in July 2017.

“With the right insurance plan, one that focuses on preventative health services, an individual can access the right medical network, diagnostic tests and wellness tests and screenings that set the right foundation for leading a healthy lifestyle,” the company advises.

It also urges people to ask the right questions when choosing a healthcare insurance plan in the UAE. Some of them include –

  • Does your plan offer local, regional or international cover?
  • How much you would be paying out of your pocket?
  • What is the maximum claim amount?

With Dubai having a population of “globally mobile expatriates”, there is also a “greater need for health services that provide borderless access,” the Cigna report stated.

To address the demands of the market, Cigna has launched its first individual health insurance product in Dubai, Cigna Healthguard.

It differentiates itself among its competitors by offering a flexible structure and a modular approach. It can be purchased at three levels (Regional, International and International Plus), based on an individual’s travel and budget requirements.

It also offers quick and easy access to healthcare facilities and professionals around the world through Cigna’s global network.

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