All you need to know about Dubai health insurance for foreigners

All you need to know about Dubai health insurance for foreigners

04.20.2023 (updated 05.02.2023)

  • AX Blog
  • All you need to know about Dubai health insurance for foreigners

The healthcare system is well developed in the United Arab Emirates, and their modern facilities attract expats and medical tourists from all over the world. There are 181 doctors per 100,000 residents in this country. According to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), this emirate welcomed 674,000 medical tourists from Asia, Europe, and the Gulf countries who spent AED 992 million (USD 270 million) in the year 2022 alone. The most popular specializations are dermatology, dentistry, orthopaedics, sports medicine, and fertility treatment.

Health insurance plays a major role in providing high-level healthcare in the UAE and is mandatory for expats residing in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The lack of an insurance is punishable by a monthly fine of AED 500 (USD 135) and affects visa renewal. In this post, we will dwell in more detail on health insurance for foreigners in Dubai, the rules of acquiring it, the prices, and the pros and cons of insurance in the UAE.


Public healthcare in the UAE

About five out of six Dubai clinics are private. Public hospitals account for 1/6 of the total number, but they also provide high-quality services. Citizens of the UAE are treated at public clinics for free, but foreigners need to pay for a health card procured via the DHA website.The following support documents are required:

  • Your personal photo against a white background;
  • A copy of your passport;
  • Your Emirates ID (EIDA) card and a copy thereof;
  • A valid residence or entry visa.

The cost of a health card varies from AED 120 to AED 320 (USD 35 to USD 90) depending on the applicant’s age. In an emergency, you are entitled to emergency care at a public clinic even without a health card: you will be issued a temporary one upon arrival. A health card alone, however, is insufficient: every expat needs a health insurance.

Private health insurance in Dubai

Employers are obligated by law to provide a health insurance for their workers. Violation is punishable by large fines. However, this requirement does not apply to employees’ family members in Dubai: it is merely a recommendation in their case. Besides, if you are an entrepreneur, a self-employed person, or arrived to the UAE under a retirement program, you will also need to get an insurance on your own. The available list of healthcare services will vary depending on the insurance plan and the insurance amount. In 2022, an average health insurance for a Dubai resident across various plans cost AED 6,000 (USD 1,600) per year.

Types of health insurance

UAE health insurance plans are standardized. Most private insurance firms offer four key types of policies that apply to everyone, from solo immigrants to large families or companies.

Essential Benefits Plan

The lowest health insurance level stipulated by the Dubai legislation is called the Essential Benefits Plan. However, it only applies to persons with a monthly income of AED 4,000 (USD 1,100) or less and dependents with no income of their own. This plan covers the following:

  • Emergencies;
  • Visits to a General Practitioner;
  • Essential tests and check-ups;
  • Essential vaccinations;
  • Prescription medicines (with a limit on their total value);
  • Physiotherapy sessions (no more than 6 per year);
  • Cancer treatment;
  • Pregnancy management and childbirth.

Dental care, orthodontics, laser eye surgery, and hearing loss treatment are not included in this package.

At AED 525-750 (USD 145-205) per year, an Essential Benefits Plan is quite affordable. The coverage amount is AED 150,000 (USD 41,000). Insurance premiums are higher for elderly people over 65 years due to health risks and unemployed married women from 18 to 45 years who are likely to get pregnant.

Every visit to a doctor and every test costs the holder 20% of its cost but no more than AED 500 (USD 135) per visit and a total of AED 1,000 (USD 270) over the year. 30% of the cost of medicine is paid out of pocket.

The following documents are required to procure an Essential Benefits Plan:

  1. A filled out and signed application;
  2. A copy of your sponsor’s passport with a residence visa (in case of dependent’s insurance);
  3. The insured person’s passport, visa, and Emirates ID (or a copy of an application for issuing the corresponding documents);
  4. A salary certificate (for employed persons).

Individual Plan

Individual Plans have a broad coverage and price range. The cost of a specific policy depends on several parameters, such as the gender and age of the insured person, their health status, the existence of chronic diseases, and specific requirements (e.g., dental coverage). The broader the range of services covered by the health insurance policy, the higher the price.

The average price of an Individual Plan in Dubai is around AED 10,000 (USD 2,700), but a healthy employed 30-year-old expat can pay almost two times less for a comprehensive coverage policy—e.g., AED 5,500 (USD 1,500).

It should be taken into account, however, that insurance rates are rising. In early 2023, the average cost of a policy grew by almost 20% compared to Q4 2022.

Family Plan

The cost of an essential health insurance for a family in Dubai starts at AED 17,000 (USD 4,600). A comprehensive policy for a family of four expats may cost AED 33,500 (USD 9,000). Many firms offer a comprehensive insurance at a 10% discount if it includes three or more family members. Such policies cover outpatient care, hospital stays, injuries, complications during pregnancy, organ transplants, and much more.

Group Plan

These policies cover 20 or more people and feature significant discounts and additional advantages. They are a great choice for companies with extended employee benefits and large multigenerational families.

How health insurance works in Dubai

Let us consider specific cases of getting medical care in Dubai under a health insurance.

Emergency aid

You can call an ambulance from anywhere in the UAE by calling 998. Local hospitals are equipped with cutting-edge equipment and provide emergency care for free. All subsequent interventions, however, must be paid for.

If, in an emergency, you were admitted to a clinic whose services are not covered by your insurance, you will be transferred to a hospital covered by it.

Doctor’s visits

Scheduled doctor’s visits are covered by a regular insurance. Many firms offer a wide choice of centres and hospitals.

For non-urgent medical care, you can visit a family practice doctor at a public or private hospital. These healthcare professionals provide general outpatient consultations for adults and children.

In Dubai, you need no referral to visit a medical specialist: you can choose a doctor at a public or private clinic independently. Free online services for finding a specialist and getting an appointment are available. Many patients, however, prefer to go to a family practitioner first for a professional opinion and recommendations.

Dental care

Dental care is expensive in Dubai. Essential Benefit Plans do not include it, which should be taken into account when choosing an insurance policy.

  • Comprehensive health insurance plans include dental coverage. With such a plan, you can easily get access to corresponding services, such as regular dental check-ups, treatment, teeth cleaning, etc.
  • If your insurance plan does not cover dental care, you can select a special add-on to your plan. It is better to take care of that ahead of time.

Pharmacies and sale of prescription medicines

There are many pharmacies in Dubai, many of them open 24/7. It should be noted, however, that some prescription medicines legal in your country may be illegal in the UAE, especially sleeping pills and antidepressants. The full list of non-permitted medicines is available on the website of the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP).

Purchase prescription medicine is sometimes covered by the health insurance. For instance, an Essential Benefits Plan covers AED 1,500 (USD 410) worth of medicines per year.

Pregnancy management and childbirth

A pregnant woman should get registered with a hospital of her choice no later than on the seventh month. It should be noted, however, that it is only possible to give birth or get fertility treatment in Dubai if the couple is legally married. The expectant mother’s and her husband’s passports and a marriage certificate must be submitted for registration.

An Essential Benefits Plan covers eight doctor’s visits for required check-ups and tests, services worth AED 7,000 (USD 1,900) in case of a natural birth, and up to AED 10,000 (USD 2,700) in case of a C-section. Insured persons pay 10% of the value of all services out of pocket.

A new-born is insured by the mother’s policy for 30 days after birth. The package includes neonatal tests, the necessary vaccinations, and screening.

Individual Plans cover a broader range of services but cost more.

Pros and cons of health insurance in Dubai

To summarise, the advantages of Dubai health insurance are:

  • High quality and availability;
  • Cutting-edge equipment and innovative technologies;
  • Capability of using private and public clinics;
  • Capability of purchasing add-ons to your plan;
  • No waiting time at private hospitals.

The disadvantages include the following:

  • No dental care in an Essential Benefits Package;
  • Fines for a lack of insurance;
  • Psychological counselling is rarely included in insurance plans.

If you are planning to come to Dubai, a health insurance will guarantee reliable and high-quality treatment at state-of-the-art clinics with cutting-edge equipment and knowledgeable sympathetic staff. At a comparatively low cost, you and your children can get access to one of the world’s best healthcare systems.

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