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Breast Cancer and Insurance in Dubai
Posted on Oct 12, 2016 by Travis Jones
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here again, and UAE Medical Insurance wants to remind the women of Dubai to get screened regularly. More than this, we want them to be aware of potential pitfalls that can happen to them even after they have been diagnosed with the disease. Here, we look at recent trends in breast cancer in Dubai and how women in the emirate can protect themselves from financial hardship due to high medical costs.
It’s that time yet again. No doubt you have likely already been seeing more pink around as you go about your day. And even if you are oblivious to the world around you, the reminders are all over the place online. That’s right: It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month again! The time each year when women around the world are encouraged to make sure they are either receiving breast cancer screenings if they are of age, or encouraging family members who are at risk to do the same. Having said this, you would think that the years of raising awareness would have resulted in all women in Dubai, and the UAE at large, going for regular breast cancer screenings, however, you would be wrong.
As recently as April of 2016, articles were published highlighting the fact that not enough women are getting screened regularly for breast cancer, and this could be traced back to women’s own attitudes towards getting screened. The doctor cited in the article, Dr. Laszlo Tabar, stated that women simply are not getting screened unless they feel that something may already be wrong, thereby severely limiting the advantages of detecting cancer early.
Another issue for women in Dubai is, despite the fact that they most likely have health insurance, addressing the costs of breast cancer treatment should they get the disease. Here, we take a closer look at breast cancer in Dubai, as well as the implications of the disease as it relates to health insurance coverage.
Breast cancer in Dubai, the UAE, and beyond
On a worldwide scale, the common wisdom surrounding breast cancer is that the older a woman is, the more at risk she is of developing the disease. However, recent developments suggest that women in the UAE specifically should be getting checks at a younger age than in many other places around the world. This is due to an increase in breast cancer in women under 40 in the country. This is especially troubling as breast cancer in younger women is generally more aggressive than when it develops later in life. To be clear, the reason for this is not based on the location of women in the UAE so much as it is their ethnicity. Arab women are the demographic that are seeing a higher chance of breast cancer developing at a younger age.
What’s more, the current general cancer rates being seen in the Middle East are expected to double by 2030 unless governments and healthcare systems in the region take proactive and impactful steps to combat the trend of increased.
Another finding of recent studies show that all women in the UAE should be aware that breast cancer is not limited to only those that have a family history of the disease, as only 20% of UAE breast cancer patients had family members with the disease previously.
In light of all this, it can be seen that it is imperative that women in Dubai receive regular mammograms for the detection of breast cancer. After all, a lump in the breast can be detected up to three years before becoming malignant, giving doctor and patient alike plenty of time to address the problem before a patient’s health falls into serious jeopardy.
Detecting cancer early can drastically reduce the cost of treatment as stage I cancer is highly treatable (i.e. survival rates of approximately 90%). This, in turn, reduces the amount of time needed to treat the disease, and can even lead to less invasive or specialized treatment.
Although residents of Dubai live in an excellent spot for treating cancer – to the point that people travel from all over the world to receive their healthcare in the emirate - what Dubai cancer patients may quickly find once they have the disease is that the are facing bills of hundreds of thousands of dirham. “How could this be?” you might ask, as everyone in Dubai is required to have a private insurance policy to address their health concerns. Well, once they take a look at the specifics of their health insurance policy, many women will find that this is because their current level of breast cancer coverage is insufficient to adequately address costs.
For most women in Dubai, their health insurance plan is generally going to be provided by an employer, and employers in Dubai generally need to spend about AED 700 per employee for an Essential Benefits Plan, which provides the minimum level of insurance coverage required by law. If your company is quite cost-conscious, these types of plans are going to be attractive, as it will fall to each insured individual to purchase any additional benefits needed on their own.
Middle East Insurance Review reports that patients need at least AED 1 million per annum for cancer treatment of any kind, and breast cancer can take up to 5 years to treat. However, the required level of coverage that many health insurance plans provide for cancer treatment in Dubai is only AED 150,000. This means that out of pocket expenses for an entire year's treatment, should it be needed, would be about AED 850,000! Native Emiratis are going to be stuck paying this difference, while expatriate women in Dubai will have to make the choice of dealing with this harsh reality, or returning home for treatment, if their country even offers coverage and treatment at a lower price.
So what’s the solution? Well, to cover costs beyond what an existing health insurance plan may currently provide, individuals can purchase what is called a ‘Top-up Plan’. This type of health insurance plan is specifically for people who already have an existing plan, but want to increase their benefits in some areas. With a Top-up Plan, you can describe your needs to your insurer while they develop a plan customized to them. If, for example, you wanted to ensure that you had cancer coverage up to the AED 1 million that may required for treatment annually, you can obtain a Top-up Plan that will cover everything beyond that initial AED 150,000 that your existing plan covers.
In order to find out more about Top-up Plans or other health insurance solutions for you, contact the experts at UAE Medical Insurance today. Not only can they analyze your current policy and answer any questions that you may have, they will also provide you with plan comparisons between major insurers in Dubai and a free price quotation.