Despite medical costs being one of the lowest in the world, Dubai should make medical insurance cover mandatory, according to the head of one the largest private hospital groups in Dubai.
“Employers have started to put pressure on the medical insurance companies to reduce costs, this is despite it being extremely low for this part of the world,” David Hadley, the chief executive officer of Emirates Healthcare Ltd and Medi-Clinic Middle East, said on Monday at the Second Arabian Business Economic Forum in Dubai.
“Healthcare costs per capita here are around $800, compared to the US where it is $6,000 and the UK where it is about $2,500 and even South Africa at $1,600. It is very, very cheap,” he added.
Hadley also added that his company has seen a rise in the use of medical insurance. “Four or five years ago, around 40 to 50 percent of our business was medically insured, now it is up at about 70 to 80 percent,” he has observed.
However, Hadley believes Dubai should follow Abu Dhabi and make medical insurance cover mandatory for all employees. He believes this “will come sooner rather than later” in Dubai and could even happen before the end of the year.
Dubai planned to introduce universal health coverage in January 2009, requiring every employer to pay a set fee to the Government for each employee but it has yet to be introduced.
Hadley’s comments came as a new health survey revealed on Monday that about 75 percent of Indians, other Asians and Arab workers in Dubai have no health insurance.
The Dubai Household Health Survey showed that only 23 percent of the bottom fifth of wage-earners – who earned an average of AED2,273 a month – had health insurance, although the income brackets were not specified.
Laila al Jassmi, the chief executive of policy and strategy at the DHA, said the figures on access to health care would be among the most useful in shaping policy.
“Initially, the survey has shown there is quite a large percentage of people not covered by health insurance. People need at least a minimum coverage,” she said in comments published by UAE daily The National.
The overwhelming majority of nationals and western expatriates, but only a third of Filipinos, had some form of health insurance, the study added.
The first Dubai Household Health Survey also found that high blood pressure is more than eight times more common in nationals than among expatriates, and twice as many Emiratis as expatriates suffer from diabetes.
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) carried out the study of more than 5,000 people in conjunction with the Dubai Statistics Centre.