In November 2013 I posted an article advising that the Dubai authorities had announced that medical insurance would become mandatory over the next few years. We now have further details, but there is also one very important point that has been largely overlooked in press reports.
The New Health Insurance Law came into effect on 1st January. Whilst there are specific provisions that relate to companies, employers will be liable only for the cost of providing cover to their staff, who in turn will be responsible for insuring spouses, dependents and domestic workers.
It is believed that only one million, out of a total of three million, residents in Dubai have medical insurance and it is mainly the lower paid and blue-collar workers who are without cover. There are also large numbers of domestic workers such as housemaids, caregivers and drivers and sponsors now will have to arrange and pay for their health insurance.
As well as employers who have not put arrangements in place, there are also a significant number of expats who work for themselves, either as a licensed freelancer or with their own small company who have not arranged cover. This is largely due to the cost, although a lack of cover is a false economy and can soon pay for itself if someone falls ill.
Whilst quality medical insurance is not cheap, it can easily be the best money you ever spend if you fall ill. Treatment can be very expensive and having to fund treatment yourself, if even possible, just makes a time of ill-health even more stressful.
There are stated deadlines for employers to arrange cover as follows:
Phase 1 – Companies with 1,000 or more staff must have cover in place by 31st October 2014
Phase 2 – Companies with 100 to 999 employees must have cover in place by 31st July 2015
Phase 3 – Companies with up to 100 staff must have cover in place by 30th June 2016
Naturally, employers can provide cover sooner than these dates and it would be wise to leave plenty of time in order to arrange the best value and most suitable cover
As part of Phase 3, anyone with a dependent spouse and children must arrange for them to be insured if the employer is not providing cover. This must be in place by June 2016, although it would be wise to have proper cover in place sooner rather than later.
Visitors to Dubai will also be required to purchase health insurance when they arrive. Details on how this will be implemented will be outlined in the next few months.
Failure by employers to provide insurance carries fines of between AED 500 and AED 150,000. Repeated breaches carry a maximum fine of AED 500,000.
Information on how to arrange cover
Please see these earlier articles for information on both personal and corporate plans
There are some 40 companies who will be licensed to provide medical cover in line with Dubai Heath Authority guidelines so it is nigh on impossible to know which is best in your particular circumstances. This is where you can benefit from unbiased advice from an experienced, independent broker which not only doesn’t cost any extra, but can make the process a lot easier.
For further information regarding medical insurance for you, or for your company, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org