Mandatory insurance needed soon - Dubai health boss

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(Image for illustrative purposes).

(Image for illustrative purposes).

The director general of Dubai Health Authority wants the emirate's stalled mandatory health insurance scheme to be introduced “soon”.

The most senior health authority in Dubai, Essa Al Maidoor told Arabian Business that employers had a role to play in ensuring the health of workers and providing insurance was “a basic need”.

“[The employer] wants the best and most productivity from [employees and] this is [a] basic need, [a] basic service he should give to them,” Al Maidoor said in an exclusive interview with Arabian Business.

It has been five years since the emirate first unveiled plans for employers to pay the government between AED500 (US$136) and AED800 per employee each year to offset the cost of primary healthcare, non-emergency inpatient care and some prescription drugs.

However the plan was suspended in 2009 after the onset of the global financial crisis.

A new proposal in 2011 cut out the government and required companies to directly buy private health insurance for their staff. Announcing the idea in 2011, Dubai Health Authority director of healthcare Dr Haidar Saeed Al Yousuf told Arabian Business it could be introduced in 2012 - but still no scheme exists.

Al Maidoor said he still hoped mandatory health insurance would be introduced for all employees. “I hope to see it soon,” he said. “It’s as a mechanism... through [which] you maintain and sustain the health service in the best, efficient way. That brings up the service.

“Also people feel secure when you have the insurance in your pocket. Hopefully you don’t need it but you always feel safe that you have a [health care] card.

“To see it comprehensive, that’s how we can maintain the best standard.”

Al Maidoor said ensuring the quality of regulation also was vital for Dubai residents and medical tourists to feel comfortable using the emirate’s healthcare system.

“How do you feel safe going to even a dentist [unless] you know that he is being tested, his qualification being checked by somebody reliable and that’s why he’s licensed,” he said.

“If you feel the premise is checked - checked continuously actually – [and] the equipment is correct, all this gives you the feeling of security.

“[Patients] should feel that somebody is regulating it but in a way that you leave the freedom of movement [within the sector]. Not to be too tight, not to be too loose.”

Al Maidoor said employers in Dubai were increasingly offering health-related benefits in the workplace to entice new employees, such as a gym and healthy food options.

“These are the things which encourage the employee to produce more and better. These are practices that I think worldwide a lot of companies have adopted,” Al Maidoor said.

“Everybody pays salaries but the difference is they have a gym, wow there’s something different ... you feel somebody’s caring about you.”

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Posted by: Akash

It is a brilliant decision by the authorities to make health insurance mandatory for the tourists. Also the fact that Abu Dhabi made Health Insurance compulsory for all residents (Locals and well as Expatriates having Abu Dhabi Visas) was a step in the right direction. As per data the penetration of Insurance in the UAE market is just around 3% which leaves a lot to be desired. Let?s hope that the other Emirates also make it compulsory so that people live with peace of mind !! For now we have to be self reliant and fend for ourselves. So for now I have bought Medical Insurance by comparing the rates at www.insurancedubai.com. You may find your best deal on some other site but you must use the power of the internet to get the best deal until your employer covers you !!

Posted by: VENKAT

It is imperative to have the Medical Insurance for all. Regrettably, the word Medical Insurance is grossly misused by the Medical Professionals, who are deliberately prescribing more unwated tests, such as X-rays/Scan/Lab tests etc etc. When the Doctor requires, the patient cannot say anything as he is not really aware of the medical condition. Ethical behaviour of medical professionals and patients will result in substantial saving of medical expenses, by avoiding various unwanted tests/ medicines. Some patients ask for medicines to be prescribed for them, which is really meant for their parents, et al. Hence, we have to have a straight-forward society to have a workable Insurance for all. As a matter of fact, taking care of own Citizens and adopted citizens is the responsbility of the Government; not the Employers

Posted by: Adam Ali Rothstein

It would be instructive to learn from other countries which don't have a single-payer/national health insurance program, and which require the purchase of private market insurance.

The most recent example is the Affordable Health Care Act of the USA (affectionately/derisively known as "Obamacare".) Much like in the USA, the private insurance (not group market) in the UAE is broken. While large companies get affordable premiums and insure pre-existing conditions for their employees, smaller groups (those with fewer than 10 employees) and individuals are relegated to the dreaded individual insurance market, where premiums are higher and pre-existing conditions are not covered. No insurance company in the UAE currently covers pre-existing conditions for the individual market!

Addressing this:
-Health exchanges, where insurance providers compete to provide the best policy/prices
-MANDATING COVERAGE OF PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS!
Without this, the law will fail in its coverage outcome.

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