This guide talks about expat health insurance in the United Arab Emirates, the circumstances it generally covers, and any extra coverage you need.
The UAE has some of the finest healthcare infrastructures in the world and is a major draw for expats looking to move there. Health insurance plays a massive role in providing a high level of healthcare in the UAE and is necessary for expats living in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Therefore, this is something that you will come across very quickly.
This guide includes the following information:
- The healthcare system and health insurance in the UAE
- Who needs health insurance in the UAE?
- Private health insurance in the UAE
- Health insurance for unemployed or low earners
- Useful resources
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COVID-19 in the UAE
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Many expats find themselves separated from family and loved ones in their home countries. As a foreigner, it is also sometimes difficult to find critical information regarding coronavirus infection rates, local measures, and restrictions, and now, thankfully, vaccinations.
For general coronavirus health information in the UAE, including vaccination schedules and locations and the latest updates, see our article about COVID-19 in the UAE or visit the Emirates’ official COVID-19 online dashboard.
The healthcare system and health insurance in the UAE
Healthcare in the UAE is a mix of private and public sectors, but expats will be using the private system. It is essential in Abu Dhabi and Dubai that you are insured; in fact, this is now a legal requirement.
The UAE has an excellent healthcare infrastructure. In the last decade, the number of facilities and healthcare professionals has increased. In some cases, the number of medical professionals working in the industry has quadrupled to deal with demand. The UAE is now a highly sought-after medical destination for people looking for top quality treatment outside of their own country.
Who needs health insurance in the UAE?
Insurance requirements can depend on the Emirate you reside in. For example, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it is mandatory (a legal requirement) to have health insurance, while in others it is not.
UAE nationals are covered under the Thiqa program. Citizens get a Thiqa card, which gives them full access to a large number of both private and public healthcare providers within the Daman network. To apply for this, you must be a UAE national (living in Abu Dhabi) and aged between 18 and 75. In addition, applicants must take a Weqaya screening through the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi.
For expats, employers and sponsors are responsible for providing health insurance for employees and their families. This includes coverage for one spouse and three children under 18.
When it comes to dependents, the employer is only required to pay 50% of the coverage, with the rest paid by either the sponsor or the employee. For additional dependents, the obligation falls to the employee to pay for their health insurance.
The Health Insurance Law of Dubai No 11 (2013) requires all residents to have a level of health insurance coverage that meets or exceeds the minimum benefits laid out by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Responsibility of health insurance is down to the employer (not the employee). The law also states that employers must not deduct the salary of the employee to provide health insurance.
UAE nationals living in Dubai have access to Saada. It provides insurance coverage to citizens who aren’t benefitting from any government health program in Dubai. Saada users can receive treatment at many DHA healthcare centers and private providers. UAE citizens have the option to opt-out of their private healthcare scheme to join the government scheme.
Employers of expats are required to provide health insurance for their employees. Sponsors are also required to provide private health insurance for their dependents.
All government employees in Ajman have health insurance provided for them.
Government employees and their dependents are provided with healthcare cover.
What happens if I am not covered by health insurance in the UAE?
Health insurance is a legal requirement for both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and monthly fines incur when there is no proof of health insurance.
In Abu Dhabi, you can expect to pay AED 300 for every person without health insurance every month. In Dubai, this is AED 500 each month, and the government won’t renew visas or grant residency without proof of adequate health insurance.
Private health insurance in the UAE
Who should get private health insurance in the UAE?
It’s easy to sum up – expats in the UAE will, for the most part, be working in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai, and for that, they will need health insurance. It is a legal requirement and if you are seeking residence, you will need to be able to prove that you have coverage.
The advantages of getting private health insurance coverage in the UAE
The biggest advantage of getting private health insurance in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is not having a monthly fine that often exceeds contributions.
In addition, you will have access to the finest medical centers in the nation, staffed by doctors and other professionals who speak English as their first language. With private health insurance, you can also choose specific, personalized add-ons to your cover.
How does private health insurance work?
In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is your employer or sponsor’s responsibility to make sure you have private health insurance. However, although everyone needs coverage, your job won’t necessarily provide it. In addition, coverage for dependents starts at around AED 599. This depends on their age and what treatments and options you would like included in the coverage.
Each insurance company works differently when it comes to making a claim, therefore it is always best to check with them first. Generally, when a medical issue or visit arises, you need to get in touch with the company first to see if the treatment is included in your coverage. Then, when you have an invoice or receipt for the medical provision, you will need to pass this on to your company and you will receive reimbursement for the payment. In some cases, or with some health insurance plans, your insurance will pay the provider directly.
The UAE Insurance Authority has a list of all insurers registered within the country, so you can check the validity of your cover.
Private health insurance companies in the UAE
Here are some of the international health insurance providers operating in the United Arab Emirates:
Health insurance for unemployed or low earners
Dubai put in place the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP) to ensure medical coverage to those who earn lower-end salaries.
EBP is for Dubai residents who earn less than AED 4,000, as well as for their dependents. The Plan has a fixed cost of AED550-AED650 annually. This covers emergencies, surgeries, tests, medication, maternity, and both inpatient and outpatient treatments. There are some limitations to EBP, including:
- An annual claim limit of AED 150,000
- Emergency treatment limited to Emirates within the UAE
- Basic healthcare in Dubai
- There is no inclusion for treatment for chronic/pre-existing conditions in the first six months (inclusion starts after that period)
- For basic inpatient healthcare services, there’s a 20% co-pay that’s capped at AED 500 per encounter. It also has an annual cap of AED 1,000. The insurer pays any fees above this.
- An annual limit of AED 1,500 for drugs/medicines in addition to a 30% co-pay for each prescription
EBP provides cover for women’s healthcare during maternity, including:
- Outpatient antenatal services including blood tests, three ultrasounds, and eight pre-delivery visits;
- Inpatient services at birth. There is coverage for a vaginal birth delivery up to AED 7,000 and up to AED 10,000 for a medically necessary caesarian section;
- 30 days of coverage for the newborn child; to cover tests and screenings, under the mother’s insurance policy
Only certain companies are allowed to provide EBP, including:
- Axa Insurance
- Ras Al Khaimah National Insurance Company
- National Health Insurance Company (Daman)
- Oman Insurance Company
- Orient Insurance Pjsc
- Metlife Alico
- Takaful Emarat – Insurance
- Dar Al Takaful (P J S C)
- National General Insurance Company
- Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company (Adnic)
- Union Insurance
- Noor Takaful