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25% of Dubai Expats Not Meeting Future Insurance Requirements
Posted on Apr 26, 2016 by Travis Jones
The clock is ticking and time is running out for those in Dubai that have yet to get their own private health insurance plan. Yet 25% of expats in Dubai are still with out medical insurance. Why do people in Dubai need to be insured, and what will happen if they don't? Read on to find out more.
If you’ve paid attention to the worlds of either healthcare or insurance over the past few years, you will have no doubt heard about the ISAHD (which means ‘bringing happiness’) healthcare reform that is being brought about by the government of Dubai and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Under this reform every person in Dubai will be required to have their own private medical insurance plan, lest they pay the consequences. The funny thing is that the final phase of ISAHD will be implemented in a matter of weeks and there are still a large number of people, both expatriate and Dubai native, that are still not compliant with the reform’s requirements. Here, we discuss the situation and provide direction for those who are not in the know on the subject.
The ISAHD reform
June 30th. That is the date that will live in infamy for the uninsured people of Dubai. This is because it is the date when the ISAHD reform’s 3rd and final phase will be implemented. Following the 1st phase on October 31st, 2015, which saw companies with 1,000 or more employees be required to provide health insurance, and 2nd phase on July 31st, 2015, which affected companies with 100 or more employees, the 3rd and final phase of the reform will affect individuals and small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
This even includes those that employ domestic helpers or live-in maids who assist their households. The burden of finding a suitable and compliant health insurance policy falls upon the employer in these cases. Similarly, unemployed dependents, including children, will need to be covered by a compliant plan too, so parents should take note.
Recent figures reported by the DHA, which seem alarmingly high, place the percentage of people in Dubai (including expats) that are not currently covered by private medical insurance at 25%. This is true even with only about 2 months remaining before the deadline. Given that many expats come to Dubai working for companies that already provide health insurance to them as part of their benefits package, it makes sense that at least 75% of them would already have their insurance needs taken care of. For this reason, 75% having coverage may even seem like a low figure. It should be kept in mind, though, that Dubai, along with Abu Dhabi, is a top destination for expatriates in the UAE (in fact, Emirati locals are outnumbered in their own country by a 9-to-1 ratio), and the term expat can also include those working as domestic helpers, construction workers or other professions that don’t typically come to mind when one thinks of the term ‘expat’. Regardless, the DHA remains confident that nearly 100% of people in Dubai will have adequate insurance coverage by June 30th, but ultimately the responsibility falls upon individual employers and family members to get covered or face the consequences.
Penalties for non-compliance
While penalties for individuals that fail to obtain their own health insurance plans have yet to be defined specifically, potential fines for employers have been released. As it stands, the penalty for employers who don’t obtain insurance for their employees starts at AED500 and can go all the way up to AED150,000 for the first occurrence. Repeated violations of the ISAHD reform can lead to a maximum fine of AED500,000.
On the other side of the things, the basic health coverage that employers are to provide must have a annual maximum insurance cover per person of AED150,000. These plans generally have an annual premium cost of AED500-700. Needless to say, this is a significant fine that should ensure that employers get on the ball with regards to obtaining group health insurance plans for their employees.
Incentives for individuals
For individuals, on top of as-of-yet-unknown fines, there is perhaps an even bigger issue at stake: Without insurance coverage, Dubai will not issue visas for them to remain in the emirate; Which is to say that without private medical insurance coverage you will not be allowed to enter the country, and if you let your current insurance policy lapse after you already reside in Dubai, you may be deported after your visa renewal is rejected. This means that for the sake of their livelihood in Dubai, having medical insurance is a must for expats.
With this in mind, the DHA has made efforts to link health insurance purchasing to visa renewal; effectively killing two birds with one stone. This process is being managed in cooperation with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).
If you are one of the 25% of expats in Dubai who still need health insurance and need to obtain your own, or if you’re an employer that needs to address this issue for your workers, now is a great time to contact a knowledgeable and licensed insurance professional. UAE Medical Insurance has a multilingual team of professionals that can provide you with free plan comparisons and price quotations. They will lead you through the process of becoming insured and help you find the ISAHD reform compliant plan that perfectly suits your needs. Contact us today!