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Insurance for dependants may cost Dh800

 Reasonable health cover for the elderly


Gulf News

12 August 2015

By Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary, Senior Reporter 



Dubai: Competitive insurance packages and reasonable premiums for the sixty-plus population, a public health fund to deal with unforeseen health emergencies such as premature births and onset of cancer are some of the issues that the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is working on once it achieves its 100 per cent target in providing mandatory insurance cover for all by 2016.


Dr Haidhar Al Yousuf, head of health funding at the DHA, told Gulf News: “Our third phase is on schedule and once we achieve 100 per cent cover this will not only lower the risk pool for the younger population but also the elderly. Earlier, not everyone was insuring their elderly parents. Only those with chronic health conditions were seeking insurance cover. However, with everyone coming under this purview, it will make good business sense for insurance companies, and also bring down the premiums as the market will be working on economies of scale.”


The cost of insurance for the elderly was not specified by Dr Haidhar as he said it was being worked out, but it would be far less than Dh24,000 per annum as was thought previously.


Packages for insurance cover will range from the very essential one in the range of Dh700 right up to the super luxury one which will include dental, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and even treatments abroad. “Buying an insurance package is going to be similar to buying a car. Whether you buy the low end salon car or the super luxury model will depend on your expectations and how much mark-up you are willing to pay. However, just like every car fulfils the basic condition of driving you to your destination, the essential health package will cover your basic health needs,” explained Dr Al Yousuf.


Insurance companies are also working on reasonable packages for dependants in the range of Dh800 per annum. So, while this cost will be added to the visa price the actual visa renewal cost will remain the same. People will have to upload their insurance certificate along with the visa renewal application. “People need to understand that insurance is an investment for your health assurance and health security and paying a small price to have access to good quality health care,” remarked Dr Al Yousuf.


Recently cases were reported of existing employees going in for renewal of group insurances being asked a higher individual premium when it was discovered that one of the women employees was pregnant and another had cancer. Dr Al Yousuf explained: “Earlier, maternity was not included in the essential package and if a company is going in for a basic package for the employees and someone is already pregnant, the premium is bound to go higher as insurances are designed to cover potential risks and not a pre-existing one. Similarly with cancer, if someone has been diagnosed with the illness then that year the premium will be higher. However, after six months, a pre-existing condition will be covered under a normal premium.”


With more than 45 insurance providers in the market and the availability of scores of ranges and packages, who will monitor the ethical use of hospitals, doctors and pharmacies and keep a check on overutilisation? DHA is aware of exploitative sections in the health-care sector who may indulge in malpractices. “However, these are only a limited number of individuals or groups and we plan to keep a look out for these elements,” said Dr Al Yousuf.


“We will have electronic surveillance and also doctors will need to make claims through our electronic system of e-claims. We have a sophisticated software to monitor and regulate all the activities related to health insurance. We are going to be very tough and aggressive with those who exploit the system and there will be heavy penalties and punitive action against fraudulent practices. Even insurance providers will have their primary licence from the Insurance Authority but will have to seek a second permit with the DHA to practise here. Moving Dubai to this level of sophistication in health care requires the contribution of the consumer, the insurance provider, the nurses and doctors and the hospitals. The market will get streamlined and people can expect a more sustainable health-care industry where all stakeholders will be able to optimise their partnership and consumers will be able to shop and bargain for the best deals from a range of competitive service providers,” he said.