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Dubai employers’ health insurance obligations
Posted on Jan 19, 2017 by Travis Jones
The health insurance reform deadline is fast approaching, and 2% of the population is still without medical insurance coverage. Numerous employers need to obtain insurance for their employees or face a penalty. Find out more about their obligations here.
There are two stated pillars of Dubai’s health insurance law. One is that all people in the emirate should have access to healthcare, and the other is that the law must arrange for the high quality care with regards to the needs of the population. Now, the quality of care that the law, and subsequently the insurance policies themselves, provide is likely to be debated for years to come, but giving everyone in Dubai access to healthcare is certainly an achievable goal. As it happens, the onus has been placed on Dubai’s employers to cover the bulk of the cost for the Emirate’s health insurance. Here, we delve into the topic of just what an employer’s obligations are with regards to providing health insurance.
What employers must do
A final deadline is approaching and only 2% of Dubai’s population is without health insurance. The groups that are highlighted as still not possessing medical insurance in Dubai are “employees of a few small companies, spouses, parents and domestic workers,” and that is coming from the Director of Health funding for the Dubai Health Authority. For those employers that have yet to insure members of this 2% figure, a penalty of AED$500 per month for non-compliance with the new law is coming down the pike, so it’s time to take action.
This figure will really add up for those that would only have to pay AED550 annually for basic health plans for younger employees. However, basic plans for seniors above 60 years of age are sold with annual premiums ranging from AED2,500 to 7,000. Of course, for better benefits than those laid out by the government’s minimum requirements, superior plans can be purchased for a higher cost. These plans will be attractive to those that afford them, as they allow members to receive treatment at Dubai’s pricier private hospitals, while many basic plans only provide coverage at public facilities.
Employees can choose to join an insurance plan provided by their employer, or choose to join another plan of their own choosing, but the employer is only obligated to pay for whatever plan they arrange for their employees.
Whether it comes to employed residents or UAE nationals in Dubai, employers are not obligated to provide insurance for spouses or other dependents, however the official Employer’s Information Pack for the law states that, “as a matter of good human resource practice and to ensure security for its workforce DHA encourages employers to do so.” With this in mind, employers are able to include employees’ families on the company’s group health insurance policy. If the employer is not paying for dependents’ health insurance, this can still be done, and the premiums for said dependents can then be taken directly from an employee’s paycheck, thereby allowing saving the employee and their family the headache of making payments to insurers themselves.
Outside of this, it will be the responsibility of the employee and the family themselves to make arrangements for private health insurance coverage and payment. As you can see, the larger the family in this scenario, the more difficult it will be to address the costs of their health insurance. In fact, some resident expatriates are even facing the decision of whether or not to move some family members outside of Dubai, if not the whole family, as a result of not being able to pay necessary health insurance premiums.
Residents should also keep in mind that having a domestic helper makes them an employer, and they are on the hook for providing health insurance for their employee in the same way that a large multi-national corporation is.
What employers can’t do
Some unscrupulous people out there may try to search the healthcare law for loopholes so that they can evade paying for employee health insurance, but rest assured, it does not allow for non-compliance. The law documentation clearly states that “It is not permissible to deduct premiums from the employee or to reduce salary to mitigate the cost” of health insurance premiums.
Additionally, one thing that employers cannot do is obtain a work visa for a new employee without first being able to show proof that the individual has compliant health insurance. For this reason, it may be necessary to add a new employee to a company insurance plan even before they are able to begin work. Being steadfast in the reporting of employment and insurance data to the relevant government bodies will go a long way to making sure that visas are issued smoothly.
Employers can also not obtain insurance from companies not licensed to operate in the UAE, as any plans obtained from such insurance companies will not be recognized by the DHA. Even if such plans are possessed by a company or individual, they will have to purchase an approved plan or suffer a penalty.
As mentioned before, health insurance plans in Dubai must now provide a certain level of benefits, as laid out by the DHA. Features of these plans are as follows:
An annual maximum claim limit of AED150,000
Basic healthcare in Dubai and emergency care throughout the UAE
Coverage for pre-existing conditions
Ambulance, emergency, laboratory, out-patient and in-patient coverage (Some exclusions apply)
Furthermore, employees making less than AED4,000 per month must have their insurance obtained through companies known as ‘Participating Insurers’, that have exclusive access to this demographic, as well as health insurance plans that are meant to provide adequate coverage while still being affordable. These ‘Essential Benefits Plans’ are currently required to be priced between AED500-700 per month. It is possible for employers to go with other insurance companies to cater to employees making less than AED4,000 monthly, but this arrangement must be approved by the DHA.
If you are an employer in Dubai that still needs to purchase health insurance for your workers, make the whole process easy on yourself! Utilize the knowledge and experience provided by the experts at UAE Medical Insurance. Not only will they compare plans from numerous insurers with the specific benefits that you’re looking for, they can also provide you with a free price quote and answer any additional questions you may have. Contact us today!