When you’re moving to the UAE, you shouldn’t worry about your health. The healthcare system is highly developed, has high standards, and is expanding even more to meet all needs of the residents of the Emirates. Make sure you’re up to date with your routine vaccinations before you leave for the UAE. Getting the vaccines for hepatitis A and typhoid are particularly recommended.
The public and private healthcare services are regulated by the Ministry of Health, the Dubai Health Authority, and the Health Authority — Abu Dhabi. The private healthcare system provides very high-quality medical treatment and services, and has highly qualified personnel who speak several languages, so you won’t have trouble finding a doctor or specialist who speaks your language — or at least speaks English.
Usually, expats tend to make use of private healthcare so they can go to private clinics. However, the costs of private healthcare facilities can be rather high, so a good health insurance plan is a must.
Health insurance has only recently been made mandatory in all parts of the UAE, which is a big step for the whole country. Employers now have to provide their employees with health insurance; if they don’t, they can face serious fines. This new regulation has already gone into effect in Abu Dhabi. In Dubai, the last phase of this process will be completed in June 2016 — by then, companies with less than 100 employees must also have implemented this rule.
Once this big transformation has taken place, things should be easier for you. However, you should always check if the insurance policy that your employer offers is sufficient for you. Your employer is required to offer health insurance that meets the minimum requirements of the law — an annual premium of 500–700 AED and a maximum insurance cover of 150,000 AED. If you want a better insurance policy, or if you don’t have a job, you’ll have to choose one for yourself. Keep in mind that when you choose a policy by yourself, your employer doesn’t pay for that.
Of course it’s always difficult to find a good policy, so you have to think about which benefits you want to have included. Looking at hospital accommodation is also important — which type of room you’ll get if you’re hospitalized, the maximum amount your policy will cover for room and board, and which medical facilities (hospital network) are included in your plan. Always check what is and isn’t covered by your policy. Also, make sure you don’t purchase an overly expensive health insurance plan with unnecessary benefits included, but on the other hand, check that the one you do choose covers everything you need.
The most basic health insurance policy costs around 500 to 700 AED. This policy doesn’t only include access to a general practitioner, but also referrals to specialists, emergency services, maternity care, and some other services.
When you are asked about your medical history by the insurance company from which you want to take out an insurance policy, always answer honestly. If you forget to mention a condition you used to have, or a condition you have at the moment — a pre-existing condition — there is a big chance that the insurance company will void any claims you have made and will exclude all the benefits from your policy.
Another thing you should be aware of is that most insurance companies have waiting periods for making certain types of claims — mostly related to pre-existing conditions and maternity. This means that if you want to make a claim related to pregnancy, you need to have had your insurance policy for at least twelve months already. For pre-existing conditions and most dental services this period is six months.
Depending on your policy, not all costs will be covered when you’re hospitalized, like registration or admission charges, food and drinks, telephone calls, or internet usage. Other treatments or conditions that are normally not covered include plastic surgery, skin disorders, obesity, hearing loss, and vision aids. Lastly, certain hospitals and clinics may be excluded from your insurance policy.
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