Confusion over cancer coverage in Dubai
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Confusion over cancer coverage in Dubai

There has been some confusion over cancer cover by insurance plans in Dubai, so the Dubai Health Authority is making a change to Essential Benefits Plans. Find out more here.

People in Dubai have better peace of mind these days. Thanks to the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA’s) reforms to the healthcare and health insurance systems in the Emirate, almost everyone residing in or traveling to Dubai now have health insurance coverage. First, this is good news for both the public and private hospitals in the area, as they can now be confident that at least a portion of their fees will be recouped.

Also, this change is very likely to improve health outcomes across the board for patients, as everyone is now free to visit the doctor and expect that a large portion of the cost will be covered by their insurance. Previously, people in Dubai may have refrained from going to the doctor over fears related to medical costs.

Of course, there’s one terrible disease that nobody in their right mind would delay seeking treatment for: cancer. However, there has been some confusion concerning cancer coverage with Dubai's Essential Benefit Plans. Here, we discuss the issue and highlight how those in Dubai can ensure they have the coverage they need to address the deadly condition.

Essential cancer benefits?

The discussion with mandatory health insurance plans for every person in Dubai must start with Essential Benefits Plans. These health insurance policies adhere to the minimum requirements for health insurance as put forth by the DHA. The DHA’s goal with these plans is to make sure that there are standards in place that will reasonably address most every person’s healthcare and medical treatment needs.

With rules for these plans established, the government found itself echoing the concerns of Emiratis and expats alike. Do Essential Benefits Plans provide a realistic level of coverage that would not leave the insured economically burdened if a particularly nasty disease occurs? It seems the answer that was arrived at with regards to coverage for cancer was a resounding, “No.”

Digging into the details for Essential Benefit Plans that can be found in the documentation of the law itself, we can see where coverage may be insufficient. While outpatient trips for radiology diagnostic services are covered, prior approval from insurers are needed for MRIs, CT scans, and endoscopies. Not only this, each insured individual still is responsible for 20% of the total cost for such procedures in the form of a co-insurance payment.

Surgeries are covered, if a tumor would need to be removed surgically. However, treatment requiring prescription medications, such as chemotherapy, will require a 30% co-payment from the insured, and even then the annual maximum limit on medications is set at a paltry AED 1,500. Furthermore, the total annual maximum limit for all medical coverage on an Essential Benefits Plan is currently set at AED 150,000, and any costs accumulated beyond this over the course of a term year will need to be paid completely out of pocket by the policyholder.

Changes to coverage

Cancer is the third most common cause of death in Dubai. Due to perceived shortcomings in the cancer coverage offered by Essential Benefits Plans, the DHA is making needed changes to the coverage requirements as laid out in the mandatory health law, also known as the Health Insurance Law of Dubai.  The change is meant to come into force in 2018.

To ensure that lines of communication were open between the government and insurance companies in Dubai, the DHA even went so far as to hold a meeting with insurers to lay out the details of the expanded coverage. The government wanted to stress its commitment to providing adequate coverage to those in Dubai by stressing that coverage for cancer treatment will still be there even if a person hits their annual maximum benefit limit, which is currently set at AED 150,000. How likely is hitting the maximum? Well, a year of cancer treatment currently costs anywhere from AED 100,000 to 300,000. To be sure, the latter number is not at all inspiring for those that don’t have AED $150,000 extra savings in the bank.

The insurer response

Now, insurance companies in Dubai are well aware of what is coming. In a recent Middle East Insurance Review article on the topic of the change, it was mentioned that insurance companies in Dubai had a ‘mixed reaction’ to the DHA’s intended addition of cancer coverage for 2018.

Their argument to counter the increase in benefits, however, was that it would increase prices. Not only would it raise costs for insurance companies, as they will need to increase their reinsurance coverage to include cancer, it will also result in rising premiums for normal policyholders in Dubai as well.

Still other insurers found it odd that the only specific item discussed during the meeting with the DHA was coverage for cancer screening, leading us to believe that the conversation about treatment still needs to be had.

Finding the best policy

Do you have enough coverage for cancer screening and treatment right now? The answer to this question may be difficult to arrive at for those that are not well versed in the world of Dubai health insurance. Fortunately, there are ways of arriving at the proper answer quickly and easily. Namely, working with UAE Medical Insurance!

Our agents can examine your existing policy documents and compare them with your own needs. If these two items are found to be incompatible, our team is ready to provide you with answers to all of your questions, as well as present you with a comparison of plans with desired levels of coverage from different insurance companies, and a free price quote.

Contact us today and make sure you and your family have the coverage you need!



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