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Mandatory health insurance in Dubai explained

Written by Lucy O’Driscoll on 7 July 2017

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With stunning landscapes, state of the art infrastructure and no income tax to pay, it is little wonder that Dubai is home to the biggest expat community in the world.

Over 80% of the population are non-natives, and a large percentage of these go to Dubai for work. If you are planning a move to Dubai, health insurance is one of the many things that you need to organise.

Many employers include health insurance as part of the job offer package, but you might not be aware that health insurance is in fact now mandatory in Dubai for all residents.

Health insurance rules in Dubai

Starting in October 2014, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) implemented mandatory health insurance in three phases; starting with companies with 1,000 or more employees and ending with the most recent phase which covered companies with less than 100 employees, as well as domestic workers and dependants.

As of April 2017, all Dubai registered employers are now legally obligated to provide employees with a health insurance plan under the Dubai Health Insurance Law.

The Dubai Health Authority have set out guidelines on the minimum level of cover, the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP) which all employers are required to follow for their staff.

The law also extends to sponsors who must provide health coverage for their spouses, dependents and domestic workers, if not included in any Company plan.

Minimum levels of health insurance cover for expats in Dubai

The DHA have produced guidance on what the health insurance policies issued in Dubai, need to include and the minimum cover levels which are required, plus suggested restrictions. These include:

  • An annual limit of Dh150,000 per person on total claims per year
  • Pre-existing and chronic conditions must be fully covered, provided that the insured has not had any previous medical coverage of this form in the UAE within the previous 6 months
  • In-patient treatment – covered with a 20 per cent co-insurance up to a maximum of Dh500 per encounter and a maximum of Dh1,000 per year
  • Outpatient treatment – covered with 20 per cent co-insurance
  • Cost of medicine – capped at Dh1,500 per person
  • Maternity services – eight outpatient visits, inpatient treatment covered up to Dh7,000 for normal delivery and up to Dh10,000 for medically necessary C-section and other complications. All maternity services are covered with a 10 per cent co-insurance.

Penalties for inadequate health insurance in Dubai

Dubai residents who do not have adequate health insurance cover face fines of Dh500 per month and these fines will be added to their visa renewal and cancellation fees according to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.

Employees will also face problems if they are applying for visas without health insurance, even if they have successfully applied in the past. Now that these laws have come into place, new visas will not be granted and no existing visas renewed without sufficient insurance.

The good news for employees at least, is that these fines will be imposed on sponsors and employers and not the employees themselves. However, employees do still need to be aware of how these rules could affect them.

Employees’ health insurance responsibilities in Dubai

Don’t just assume that you are completely covered by the basic plan provided by your employer. As a rule the medical services provided in Dubai are of very high standard, but they can be costly.

Make sure that your health insurance includes everything that you will require, as the standard level of cover may not be sufficient for everyone.

It is also important to note that companies are not required to provide healthcare insurance for any dependents of their employees. Employees themselves are obliged to provide Dubai’s mandatory health care for their resident dependents (i.e. spouses and dependent children who are on their sponsorship) and for any domestic workers that they employ.

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