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Healthcare in Dubai

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 7 Mar 2013 |
Dubai Health Care Insurance Private

Dubai health care is comparable to other countries in the Middle East. Approximately 20 modern clinics and hospitals are strategically located to offer accessibility to residents. The ratio of clinics to patients is about 1:78,000.

Dubai’s public health care is run by the Department of Health and Medical Services (DOHMS). It provides mostly free or low cost medical services for United Arab Emirate (UAE) residents provided that they have applied for a health card if they are not a UAE citizen. Many practitioners are health professionals trained in other countries. Their qualifications are verified meticulously before they can practice in Dubai.

In general, Dubai aims to improve the overall well being of its people. Its strategy is to provide patient-specific care. The most popular medical services provided by health care providers in Dubai include vaccinations, psychiatry, counselling, medical fitness, yoga therapy, and education on health and nutrition, amongst others.

Private Health Care

One of the responsibilities of private medical professionals includes post-clinic medical calls. People are provided with appropriate medical attention regardless of residency and nationality. The first diagnostic visit to a private doctor costs £40 excluding other required medical examinations. Post-clinic private consultations are charged higher than the regular consultations. Calls during the night may run up to £70 plus. Doctors issue receipts which the patients can reimburse to their insurance company, if applicable.

Private Health Care Insurance

Health care insurance is not compulsory for all employers. You may either obtain your own health insurance or apply for a health card issued by the DOHMS. Public hospitals will only accept you as a patient with a health card but on an emergency basis only, which is why private health care insurance is advised.

Application forms for health cards are obtainable from clinics and from the Ministry of Health and completed forms should be returned to the Rashid Hospital, with two passport photographs, your passport, two photocopies of your passport, a copy of your visa (employment or residency) and the appropriate fee. If you arrived on a visit visa, you can obtain an employment or residency visa either by exciting and reentering the UAE, or by paying a fee to the Immigration Department.

Expatriate workers tend to choose private treatment if they’re covered by the necessary medical insurance but private care can be very expensive. In a country where the majority of the population comes from the Indian sub-continent, many private clinics are run by doctors from that region. Costs at these clinics are reasonable, but westerners are usually required to pay more than non-westerners, who generally earn less.

There’s a large number of international companies specialising in private health insurance in Dubai and elsewhere. Comprehensive health insurance costs from around AED180 per month for regional coverage, which equates to about £50. As with all insurance, when taking out a health insurance policy do some homework and check the small print, particularly regarding what is and isn’t covered.

All policies include limitations and restrictions; for example, ‘pre-existing’ medical conditions are unlikely to be covered, certain occupations are often excluded or attract surcharges, and high-risk sports aren’t usually covered, although the definition of ‘high risk’ does vary from one insurer to another. Many companies also limit costs for a particular treatment within a calendar year, in addition to having an overall annual limit for all treatment. Be suspicious of policies that restrict the number of days that you’re allowed to spend in hospital.

There might be an upper age limit on acceptance for a scheme and, if you’re offered a private health policy that terminates at retirement, it would be wise to avoid it; if you’re forced to obtain a new policy at the age limit, it will be very difficult to find one at a reasonable premium, perhaps at all. You can often pay to have different areas or types of cover added, but it might be expensive to do so.

Bear in mind that insurance companies can be strict about doctors or dentists filling out claim forms fully so you must insist that it's taken care of properly.

Dental Insurance

Full dental insurance can be very expensive and you must get the gold standard health plan if you want full cover. Emergency fillings and extractions are normally included in standard health plans, but treatment involving crowns, bridges etc are rather expensive. Beware of exclusions in all policies and check that cover includes things like x-rays and simple cleaning.

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