One important thing to be aware of with Dubai's Essential Benefits Plan
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One important thing to be aware of with Dubai's Essential Benefits Plan

The end of March has come and gone, and with it came the introduction of fines for not securing compulsory insurance in Dubai. As of now, companies and individuals who have not secured health insurance face being fined AED 500 for each month they are without insurance. As we have mentioned in previous articles the most basic compliant plan available costs AED 650 per year. If you have this plan - called the Essential Benefits Plan, or are looking at securing it for new employees there is one important thing you should be aware of.

First, what exactly is the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP)?

If you are moving to Dubai in the near future, or are looking at health insurance options for your employees in the Emirate you should be aware that the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has mandated that all residents have compulsory health insurance coverage. In most cases, it will be provided by your employer, but dependants and people you hire will also need their own plans.

In order to ensure that this mandate can be accommodated by all residents, regardless of their current situation, the DHA set minimum benefits that must be offered by nine approved insurers in Dubai. Plans that meet these minimum benefits are referred to by insurers as Essential Benefits Plans.

You can learn more about these plans from this article we published in 2016. To summarize, plans sold in Dubai must offer at least the following benefits:

  • An annual maximum claim limit of AED 150,000
  • Basic healthcare in Dubai and emergency care throughout the UAE
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • Ambulance, emergency, laboratory, outpatient and inpatient coverage (Some exclusions apply)
  • Companion accommodation

Beyond that, all EBPs must cost between AED 500-700 per month.  

Be aware of this important thing if you have an EBP

Due to their cost, and the requirement to secure these plans, many employers and residents have secured them for their lower-paid employees or domestic helpers. It is also fairly common to see expats secure these plans when they first move to the Emirate. The reason for this is that they must have insurance coverage before they will be issued a work visa.

The important thing to be aware of with EBPs is that they only provide coverage of medical care in the Emirate. While this is not a concern for many living in Dubai, it could become a major issue for those who live outside of the Emirate and commute here.

Imagine if you live in Sharjah and work in Dubai. In order to do so, you will need a Dubai work visa which means now, in order to get this visa you will need to secure a plan that meets the mandatory requirements set by the DHA. If you secure a EBP, you will only be covered for care in Dubai.

If you have a medical issue that is not an emergency, you will need to drive to Dubai in order to get care. Now, these plans do offer emergency care coverage in a limited area outside of Dubai but if you go to a clinic thinking it's an emergency and are told otherwise, your care won't be covered.

While not a concern for the majority, this is an important thing for people who commute to Dubai to be aware of. According to the IMTJ, there is pressure being applied in the DHA to extend coverage of the EBP, but at this time we are unaware of any official announcements being made.

Do I have other options?

Certainly. There are a wide variety of health insurance plans in Dubai that are not only compliant but also offer increased coverage over the EBPs. For example, many local health insurance plans (plans sold in Dubai) that are not classified as EBPs will actually cover care throughout the UAE.

The concern here is that most local health insurance plans in Dubai will not provide enough coverage to enable you to seek care from the top private hospitals in the city. They will certainly cover some of the cost, but you will still be required to pay for the rest of the bill out of pocket.

If you are going to be going to the top quality private health clinics and hospitals your better coverage option would be an international plan. These plans will cover care in almost every country on earth and have been designed to afford the holder the ability to seek care at the top private hospitals.

One thing to be aware of here, however, is that plans sold outside of Dubai will not meet the DHA's minimum coverage requirements. If you live outside of the Emirate and commute into the city, you are going to need to secure your plan in Dubai, as plans sold there have been designed to meet the coverage requirements.

If you are looking for health insurance coverage that improves upon your EBP, why not contact UAE Medical Insurance. Our Dubai-based team of advisors can help you find a plan that is not only compliant but also meets your coverage needs. Contact us today.


UAE-Medical-Insurance is owned and operated by Pacific Prime Insurance Brokers LLC who is regulated and licensed by the UAE Insurance Authority (license number 266).

Registered Office: PO Box 391195, Dubai, UAE