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Mandatory Health Insurance For Dubai, N. Emirates Soon

Nada S. Mussallam, Khaleej Times

United Arab Emirates

January 17, 2007

A mandatory health insurance scheme for expatriates in Dubai and Northern Emirates is on the cards, Khaleej Times has learnt. 

A senior official at the Ministry of Health (MoH) has confirmed that under a new health insurance law, the health card system will be phased out and insurance premium will be made mandatory for expatriate workers.

“All sections of the people will be able to avail themselves of the new insurance scheme,” said Dr Ali bin Shukar, Under-Secretary at the MoH.

It may be recalled that in 2002, the MoH had prepared a health insurance draft bill that was designed to replace the health card system. It was meant to serve both the public and private sectors, especially the expatriates, most of whom find the medicare costs too high for comfort. 

As for the benefits of health insurance, Dr Shukar said it would ensure availability of drugs at affordable prices, reduce pressure on public health services, and guarantee that the medical expenses of employees are borne by their employers.

The General Authority for Health Services (GAHS) in Abu Dhabi has already introduced a compulsory health insurance for expatriates residing and working in the capital.

“Health insurance has had a positive impact on medical services all across the world as it contributes immensely to developing the health of the society,” noted Dr Shukar. He said the new scheme would create competition between health institutions to provide cost-effective and quality health services.

With regard to the dateline for its implementation, the official informed that the law had been forwarded to the higher health authorities for their approval. “We have done our part. Now, the other parties are involved in drafting the legislation,” Dr Shukar pointed out.

The Cabinet has also sanctioned setting up of a panel comprising representatives from the ministries of Health, Finance, Labour, and Social Affairs to study the mechanisms of implementation of the scheme.

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