What you need to know about medical emergencies in Dubai
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What you need to know about medical emergencies in Dubai

UAE Medical Insurance discusses the newly implemented ambulance fees in Dubai, what you need to know about them, and whether your insurance will cover a ride in an ambulance.



As an expat there is a high chance that in your home country emergency medical services such as ambulances and many ER/A&E departments are about as efficient as they can be. In Dubai however, expats may find that the situation is actually a bit different, especially when it comes to the way ambulances and emergency departments at hospitals work. Because there is always a chance that you will need to use these services it would be a good idea to know about what to do during a medical emergency in Dubai.

Know when to call an ambulance and the cost

During a medical emergency, one of the first things many people will do is call an ambulance. While Dubai does have one of the most advanced fleet of ambulances in the world - including some awesome, yet maybe not highly practical, first responder vehicles - there are times when you should and should not call an ambulance.

According to an article published in Zawya in January of this year, " Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services received 161,000 calls in 2015", a number which has been increasing steadily in recent years. The article highlighted that, "A study by Dubai Ambulances showed that there has been a steady increase in reports and cases over the past four years. In 2010, there were 76,490 reports, and 88,083 in 2011, with the figure jumping to 105,645 in 2012. In 2013, there were 125,445 calls and 145,532 in 2014."

Another article published in 7Days in June of last year found that nearly 60% of all calls for ambulances made in 2014 turned out to be for non-emergency cases. This is a large misuse of resources that could pose major problems, especially if there is a major medical emergency. Largely because of this misuse, officials, police, hospitals, and EMTs recommend only calling for an ambulance in an extreme medical emergency. For example, if you are in a car accident and can still walk/move/or have fairly minor injuries it is recommended that you either take another car or taxi to the emergency room.

If you do require an ambulance, call 999 (for Police who can also dispatch ambulances) or 998 (specifically for ambulances). When you call for one be sure to give them clear directions or a clear address. All dispatchers can speak English and Arabic, and will usually be able to tell you when the ambulance should arrive.

As of February 28, 2016, you should be aware that ANY calls for ambulances will be charged a fee. As 7Days reported, "Dubai Police and Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services now charge a fee of AED 6,770 for emergency and evacuation services provided to each casualty in a traffic accident, which will be collected from the insurance provider of the party that caused the accident."

The key here is how the charge will be levied. If you are in an accident, are at fault, and 5 people need to go to the hospital you will be charged AED 6,770 per-person, or AED 33,850 total. Should you call for a medical emergency where there is not someone at fault, you or your insurance will also be billed.

Know what hospital to go to and how to get there

During an emergency, it is recommended that you go to the nearest hospital with an emergency department, regardless of whether it is government-run or private. If you call an ambulance you will usually be taken to a private hospital if there is one in proximity, so it is important that you have your health insurance information on you at all times.

As we stated above, if your medical issue is not an emergency then it would be a better idea to either call a taxi or friend to drive you to the hospital. One thing to be aware of is that not every hospital has an emergency department, so be sure to research ahead of time hospitals near your home, work, and anywhere you visit frequently.   

Know how Emergency Departments work at hospitals

Once you are at the hospital, what will happen next will vary depending on what type of hospital you are taken to.

If you are at a government-run facility you will be triaged by staff at the Emergency Department. If it is deemed to be an emergency you will be admitted and receive immediate care. After you are stable, staff will usually ask for insurance information (in most cases your ID or Insurance card) and begin billing procedures. Should you be unconscious, staff are trained to search through pockets and personal items to find your ID. On the other hand, if staff deem your injuries to be non-serious, they will usually direct you to the nearest open walk-in or outpatient clinic for care.

For those who are taken to private hospitals, you will be triaged and admitted. Should the hospital you go to not be equipped to handle your current medical emergency you will be moved to the nearest hospital that does.

Know what your insurance will cover

Finally, it is important to know what your health insurance plan covers, including the benefits, caps/limits, and other elements like co-pays. When it comes to emergencies it would also help to know whether your plan will cover ambulance rides or not. Colin Ward, Sales Director at Pacific Prime UAE explained, "Under the current health regulation in Dubai, emergency transport has to be included in all DHA compliant health insurance plans. However, it is important to know that a 20% co-insurance is allowed." In other words, you will could be required to pay 20% of the ambulance fee.

Ward recommended that you review your health insurance plan's coverage elements to see if there is a co-insurance percentage on emergency medical transportation. Because this is an optional element, there are plans available that offer full coverage for any medical transportation. To learn more about these plans, or have help reviewing your options, please book a meeting with our health insurance experts today.

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