According to Policy Directive Number 2 issued by the Dubai Health Authority, as of January 1, 2015, every medical insurance plan in Dubai must meet or exceed the minimum benefits set forth by the Health Insurance Law. This is great news for all residents, as pre-existing and maternity must now be covered under all policies.

According to the Insurance System for Advancing Healthcare in Dubai (ISAHD), all new policies issued in 2015, whether for an individual or group, must comply with the Essential Benefits Plan. However, existing policies will not have to be amended, with the new requirements only taking effect upon renewal. What this means for companies is that new employees and dependents can continue to be added to the group plan, even if the health insurance policy does not meet the minimum criteria set forth by the Dubai Health Authority.

This directive does not change the deadlines for residents to buy new insurance, it only affects the timing by which insurance companies must change their product offerings to comply with the minimum benefits required under ISAHD. The deadlines for residents to be insured are still:

  • 31 July 2015 – companies with 100 to 999 employees
  • 30 June 2016 – companies with less than 100 employees
  • 30 June 2016 – All dependents and domestic workers

So what effect has Policy Directive Number 2 had in reality? Insurance companies have already started to change their offerings. They must now cover pre-existing conditions for all Dubai residents, and the maximum waiting period is 6 months. Previously, many insurance companies required a member to be insured for 1 to 2 years before any pre-existing conditions would be covered.  Most insurance companies now provide benefits for pre-existing & chronic conditions up to AED 150,000 (after the first 6 months).

Maternity coverage is now mandatory as well. Every health insurance policy must cover up to AED 7,000 for normal delivery (up to AED 10,000 for a medically necessary C-Section). While the policyholder must pay 10% of the costs, there is no longer a waiting period.  Previously, many expecting couples were underwhelmed by the options available in the UAE. Most insurers used to require a waiting period of 12 months before any claims for pregnancy benefits could be made.

Other mandatory benefits now include physiotherapy. The minimum requirement is that insurance companies cover 80% of the treatment costs for up to 6 sessions per year.

ISAHD has had an immediate impact on insurance companies’ product offerings to start the new year. Every resident of Dubai can now purchase adequate coverage at a reasonable price. Whether you have an existing disease, or are planning to start a family, you can find acceptable medical insurance coverage to protect yourself and reduce the financial burden of healthcare costs.