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Dubai Health Authority Makes Medical Insurance in Dubai a Legal Requirement
What does the reform mean?
Having medical insurance in Dubai is now a legal requirement for all individuals either visiting or residing in the Emirate. In order to change the way in which healthcare is managed across the country, the Dubai Health Authority has now initiated the mandatory healthcare reform. It is hoped that this will enable the private healthcare sector to play a bigger role in Dubai, attracting more foreign investment as well as lightening the financial load of healthcare costs currently burdening the public sector.
Moving forward, Dubai residents will be enrolled in a government insurance scheme, unless they are already part of an existing plan. For foreign nationals, this responsibility will fall on employers. It should be noted that while it will be encouraged, it will not be required for employers to include an employee's dependents as part of a healthplan and if this is the case, then the employee will need to organise this themselves.
The DHA has released a number of circulars to keep interested parties updated with the latest information. These circulars, which can be found here, provide detailed information regarding the changes and modifications made to legal requirements and insurance policies. September saw the release of four new circulars which exposed several new regulations and requirements.
The first of these most recent circulars was released on the 4th of September, 2014 and brings to light the main forms of communication the DHA will be using to inform the necessary parties. These will be as follows:
- A Standard Notice - to highlight the set industry standards such as business conduct, customer service etc
- A Policy Directive - refers to certain policies that all residents should adhere to such as minimum benefit levels
- A General Circular - provides communications of a more informative and broad nature
- A Procedural Notice - refers to the specific instructions that certain procedures need follow
Also released on the 4th of September, the second circular reinforces a previously stated point from the DHA that only specific participating insurers are approved to provide policies to employees in the lower salary band.
In addition, self-funded schemes are no longer allowed and existing schemes need to be transferred to a fully insured scheme before a defined deadline. This last regulation has been put in place with the aim of not only ensuring employees have access to a suitable level of care, but also to protect employers from the risk of catastrophic claims. The DHA is stressing this point in particular to Insurance providers, intermediaries and TPA’s to make sure employers are prevented from establishing new non-compliant schemes before the set deadline.
Regarding the handling of complaints, the third circular was released on the 21st of September and addresses all health insurance distributors and providers as to how they should proceed when a complaint is submitted.
To ensure complaints are handled appropriately, the DHA requires companies to gather all the necessary information, such as number of complaints, turn-around times and outcomes and submit this data monthly to the Chief Operations Officer of the company as well as an annual submission to the DHA Health Funding Department.
Finally, the fourth circular released on September 24th provides the most up-to-date deadlines as to when all insurance policies are required to become compliant. Several new deadlines are included with the most important to note being as follows: all policies written after the 1st of January, 2015 will have to meet the new compliance guidelines while existing policies may need updating upon reaching their next renewal date. Those policies with upcoming renewal dates on or before the 1st of July, 2015 will have until their 2016 renewal date to make the transition.
The DHA are likely to continue releasing these types of updates as the healthcare system adapts to the changes made so far. UAE Medical Insurance will ensure they are kept abreast of any new updates and will continue to provide those interested with any information required. If you have any further queries or questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.