Thursday, December 07, 2006

Health Insurance in the UAE

Abu Dhabi - Health cover for all expat staff in capital. Starting from January 1, 2007, it will be mandatory for companies operating in Abu Dhabi to cover their expatriate staff whose visas are issued in other emirates with a national health insurance policy, a senior official source said.

The companies which fail to do so will face financial penalty against each employee and additionally have their transactions blocked at government departments, warned the official.

“Regardless of the emirate in which the company was headquartered sponsors should include their non-national employees in the national health insurance system provided that they are residing and working in Abu Dhabi,” an official source at the General Authority for Health Services for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (GAHS) told Khaleej Times yesterday.

The huge population of expatriates working in the capital and have their visa issued in other emirates were skeptical whether their companies will cover them with the national health insurance project.

“In case of violations, employers have to pay a monthly fine of Dh300 for each employee that was not included in the health insurance scheme. Non-compliance will subject the company to a blockage concerning processing of various transactions at public departments and ministries,” reiterated the official.

On January 1, a mandatory insurance premium for expat employees residing and working in the capital will be implemented to phase out the existing health card, under a presidential decree. The newly introduced health insurance project aims to alleviate the suffering of expats resulting from high medical treatment fees and makes sure sponsors will bear treatment expenses for non-national employees.

The first phase of the scheme was enforced on July 1 this year for companies employing more than 1,000 staff members. “We want to make sure that all expat residents working and living in the capital will avail of the insurance. Belonging to a company that is located in Dubai or any other emirate should not make any difference for this category as they will still be able to benefit from the project”, said the official.

That is good news for the expatriates working in the capital. What about the expatriates working in the other Emirates. Are they wealthy enough to afford the medical insurance requirements by themselves? No, not all. And therefore, it is imperative it should also be made mandatory for all companies operating in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujeirah, and Umm Al Quwain to have a national health insurance policy for their expatriate staff. The emirate of Dubai is contemplating such a move; however, the required momentum in that direction is yet to pick up.


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