Wellness Programs and Employee Assistance Programs: How do they work?
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Wellness Programs and Employee Assistance Programs: How do they work?

The UAE is a modern country with modern businesses, yet some have been slow to adopt the Wellness Programs and Employee Assistance Programs that more and more companies around the world are folding into their employee benefits packages. Find out more about what these programs are and how they can help your organization here.

The United Arab Emirates is a divided country… medically speaking. This can be said because each Emirate has their own local government that makes their own local rules and regulations regarding healthcare in the territory. What’s more, in recent years there have been major changes to the healthcare and health insurance systems in some emirates that have made the UAE health landscape more varied than ever. While some emirates continue to allow residents and visitors alike to live without health insurance and roll the dice when it comes to the possibility of running up medical debt, thereby keeping care providers sometimes chasing payment, others have decided to make possessing private medical insurance mandatory for all in their borders.

However, even with these programs in place, they don’t address everything and anything that a person might want from their health insurance. For evidence of this, let’s have a look at requirements for insurance in Dubai. Plans in this emirate require a minimum amount of coverage that aim at providing a comprehensive package of benefits and consumer-friendly regulations. These include:

  • Six months after obtaining an insurance policy, pre-existing conditions cannot be excluded, with very few exceptions

  • Inpatient and outpatient cover with an annual minimum amount of coverage totaling AED 150,000

  • Maternity Insurance benefits with no waiting period

  • Vaccinations for newborns and children

  • Coverage for acute chronic conditions of at least AED 150,000 per year

  • Basic healthcare services in Dubai and emergency medical services throughout the UAE

  • Ground ambulatory transportation

  • Prescription coverage up to AED 1,500 per year (including coinsurance)

What you will not find listed as mandatory, though, are types of additional benefits that many modern businesses and organizations are now using to entice high quality job candidates their way, as well as ensure that their employees are given every chance to be healthy and thrive. These are Wellness Programs and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Let’s discuss these programs in a bit more depth to let you know what they’re all about.

This article will be of particular interest to those that are in charge of administrating a group health insurance plan for a company or other organization. This is because wellness programs and employee assistance programs are most in demand in places where their costs can be spread out across a larger group. So what do each of these types of programs consist of?

Wellness programs

A workplace wellness program contains incentives and benefits designed to help a company’s employees, and potentially their families, to lead healthier lifestyles by focusing on nutrition and physical activity. This preventative approach can lead to long term healthcare cost savings, as people leading healthy lifestyles are less likely to develop serious medical problems.

Wellness programs can have a number of different features to them, some that have been tried and tested for a long time and some that are more experimental. On the newer side of things, some programs are utilizing new wearable technologies for tracking activity and sleep levels, with incentives for meeting certain health goals. Other common features include gym memberships, visits with a nutritionist, flex time for exercise, walking meetings, healthy options in vending machines, on-site meal preparation, and other educational and informational seminars.

The benefit to the company with this type of program is increased productivity as a result of having happier and healthier employees. Research has even shown that investing in preventative health is more cost effective than covering the costs of acute medical care after ignoring the promotion of generally healthy lifestyles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States even reported that every dollar put into wellness programs resulted in saving 3-6 dollars return on investment.

Employee assistance programs

Unlike a Wellness Program, which tends to focus on physical health, Employee Assistance Programs aim to assist employees with real life solutions to either personal or work-related problems, resulting in increased performance on the job, but also increased mental, physical and emotional health.

In order to accomplish this, EAPs can give users access to a range of services. For identifying areas of improvement, confidential assessments can be provided to show where an employee may want to focus on professionally or psychologically. Robust mental health care is often offered under EAPs, with free access to psychologists or other counselors being a standard feature of such programs. This mental health treatment can be invoked for any number of reasons, be it stress on the job, major life events, substance abuse, financial problems, legal issues, interpersonal problems, or any other thing that can weigh heavily on a person’s mind and distract them from what they should really be focusing on. Mediation services can even be obtained through an Employee Assistance Program if an employee feels that conflict resolution with another individual may require it.

Employers also can get a lot out of an EAP, as packages can include corporate services like coaching programs, crisis management and intervention, management consultation, and larger scale talks on various health topics for everyone in the office. As well, EAPs have also been shown to provide good return on investment for employers.

If you are interested to find out more about group health insurance plans that include wellness or employee assistance programs, please feel free to contact the insurance experts at UAE Medical Insurance. Not only can they with a comparison of plans available in your area, they can also find the plan and price that is best suited to your company’s needs.


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