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Domestic Helper Insurance and DHA Reform
Posted on Sep 30, 2015 by Travis Jones
A big change has been unfolding in Dubai as Dubai Health Authority reforms have been rolling out for some time now ensuring that large companies are insuring their employees. How about small employers, like those that employ domestic helpers, though? As it happens, their time is coming. Read on to find out more.
So you’ve moved to Dubai and are either starting a family, or have brought your young family along with you. If you are like many others that are in the same boat, then you and your significant other have careers that you would like to focus on, and you likely will need some help to not only watch the kids, but also to maintain your home. Unlike in many Western countries, having a live-in domestic helper is quite common throughout the Middle East and Asia, and the UAE is certainly no different. In fact, all you need to sponsor a domestic helper in Dubai is a family, income greater than AED 6,000, and adequate living arrangements.
Now, welcoming someone who is essentially a stranger into your home is a pretty big deal for both the family and the helper. Of course parents will go through credible agencies to have an appropriate helper placed with them, but helpers really have to keep their fingers crossed that the family they end up working for will be good employers that they will be happy with.
Fortunately for domestic helpers in Dubai, at the end of 2014 all Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including the UAE, enacted a ‘maid contract’ that standardizes many features of domestic helper/maid employment in the region. This agreement includes the right to leave, and sets guidelines for hours worked, overtime and holiday pay. Additionally, in an effort to prevent the restriction of employee movement, employers are no longer allowed to hold the passports of domestic helpers. Finally, employers are now responsible for a flight ticket to send their helpers home upon the termination of their contract.
While these rules help to hold employers accountable, and provide much needed protection for foreign domestic helpers, Dubai will be going a step further to ensure that helpers are looked after. On June 30th, 2016, the final phase of the Dubai Health Authority’s nationwide healthcare reform package will come into force. What this will do, in addition to requiring families to ensure every member of the family is insured, is require any employer to purchase and provide health insurance for each employee they have. This includes domestic helpers and full-time maids. What’s more, the onus is on the employer to do the legwork of finding a plan that meets DHA standards for their employees, so employers cannot simply provide an allowance for health insurance and tell their employees to find health insurance on their own. What are DHA standards, though?
There is a specific, and rather comprehensive, list of benefits that each employee in Dubai will be required to have covered by the end of June. These include:
- Out-patient care: Exams, general practitioner diagnostics and treatment, lab tests, physiotherapy, medicine, consultants and specialist, immunization and vaccination, diabetes screening, dental, hearing and vision, corrective laser and surgical treatment for vision, radiology diagnostic services.
- In-patient care: Emergency treatment, surgery, tests, diagnosis, treatment
- Maternity care: Newborn cover, in-patient maternity, outpatient antenatal
Seemingly, being covered by a health insurance plan with benefits for all of the above items would provide peace of mind for just about anyone. However, it should be noted that plans adhering only to the government-mandated maximum annual benefit will only provide care up to AED 150,000. For this reason, if you have a domestic helper and you want to ensure that they are well cared for no matter what accidents or illnesses may arise, you will have to look into obtaining higher quality plans that the most basic ones on offer. Other concerns for domestic helpers built into the reform are that deductibles and co-payments of up to 20% are excluded from the AED 150,000 annual limit. This means that the cost of healthcare can still be an issue for helpers while they are well under the limit. After all, some medical care can be quite pricey, especially in private medical facilities in a place with the level and quality of care, and technology that Dubai possesses. Thus, for those that want to provide access to a high level of care for their helpers, it would make sense to consult with an insurance professional to help identify an appropriate health plan.
The bottom line is that employers and families of all stripes will be required to provide health insurance to all of their members by the mid-point of 2016. If you still need to accomplish this, or if you have any questions about basic health plans or plans that provide additional benefits beyond minimum DHA requirements,contact UAE Medical Insurance today. Helpful agents are ready to not only provide you with information, but also provide free plan comparisons and price quotes from major insurers.