Dubai companies with 1,000 or more employees will have to cover their staff with health insurance before the end of October 2014, health officials said on Tuesday.
Smaller companies with 100-999 employees will have until the end of July 2015 and companies below 100 employees have until end of June 2016 to cover their employees, Dubai Health Authority said.
All spouses, dependents and domestic workers will also have to be covered by June 2016, it added in a statement.
On average, health cover will cost about 1.5 percent of monthly salary, officials said.
Dr Haider Al Yousuf, director of health funding at the DHA, said the process of obtaining a health insurance permit will be completed by next month. The DHA will announce a list of the companies that have obtained these permits, he said.
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.”
All healthcare providers will need to obtain a health insurance permit so that they are eligible to provide insurance cover in Dubai, he added.
Those who already have the permit will start providing insurance within the next few weeks.
Health insurance packages will cover all essential health services including emergency care, access to GPs, referral to specialists, tests and investigations, surgical procedures and maternity care.
Al Yousuf said that for employers, this will provide minimum impact to them in terms of cost.
“On an average, health insurance costs 1.5 percent of the monthly salary. For example, if an employer pays AED10,000 per month in salaries, if he adds AED150 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.”
According to official estimates, only 40-50 percent of Dubai's residents are covered by government and private health insurance schemes today.