Dubai, UAE: Under Dubai’s mandatory health insurance law which makes it mandatory for residents to have health insurance cover by June 30, the sponsors of residents found without an insurance during visa renewal will have to pay fines past the deadline.
This means sponsors of spouses and elderly parents must obtain insurance cover for dependants even if the visa is not due for renewal before June 30, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Talking to Gulf News on the sidelines of Arab Health 2016, Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, Director of Public Health Funding at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said: “Under this law, first there is a legal requirement for every Dubai resident to get covered. The second aspect is to establish who is legally responsible to provide the cover.”
“In case of employers,” he added, “it is simple. But in case of spouses, elderly parents, housemaids and house boys, it is the legal responsibility of the individual who is sponsoring their visa.”
So, if an elderly family member’s visa, for instance, is being renewed in May this year, even though the deadline for insurance is June 30, and the visa renewal will not require insurance prerequisite now, it is important the sponsor gets the cover done.
“The visa is only a check-up mechanism,” the official said, “but the sponsor will be held legally liable in case he violates the law and will have to pay the fine in retrospect from June 30, 2016 when the visa of the dependant comes up for renewal.”
The penalties are in final stages of deliberation and therefore the amount could not be disclosed, Dr Al Yousuf said, adding that the DHA is going to launch a public awareness campaign soon to educate individuals about compliance with the law and the penalties of not doing so, added Dr Al Yousuf.
Right now, insurance premiums for the elderly are very high and packages range from Dh12,000 to Dh30,000 per year and are a major deterrent for expatriate residents whose parents live with them.
Dr Al Yousuf said this could change if all the elderly came under the purview of health insurance.
“Right now, only those with major health issues are opting for health insurance. The risk profile for the elderly therefore is very high and therefore the high premiums. But when everyone pays premiums and has a cover, not everyone is going to use the health services every day; there might be healthy elderly people with routine issues bringing down the risk liability and lowering the premium,” explained Dr Al Yousuf.
He advised residents to opt for basic packages for other categories which are in the range of Dh650-Dh700 per year.
DHA announces nine regulations
In a bid to promote high standards of excellence in health care and ensure patient safety, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has introduced nine new regulations to monitor health-care procedures, licensing and quality of services at all Dubai hospitals and facilities.
The regulations have been published on the DHA website, and in case of violation, patients, their relatives or an employee at the facility can lodge an online complaint with the medical regulations committee on firstname.lastname@example.org or call the DHA hotline 800 DHA.
Dr Mohammad Oussama Al Kayali, director of the DHA regulations department, said the medical practice committee will examine the complaint and, based on the violation, issue a warning, suspend or even revoke the licence of the facility.
“The medical director of the establishment will have to ensure compliance and adherence to the list of regulations,” Dr Al Kayali added.
These regulations cover the functioning of oncology departments, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, sleep laboratories, hair transplant facilities, laser and hair reduction facilities, obstetrics and gynaecology clinics, family medicine, colon hydrotherapy procedures and general practitioner’s practice.
Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, Director of Health Regulation at the DHA, said: “The regulations are either new regulations or are comprehensive updates. During the development stage, DHA brought on board subject matter experts to help develop these regulations so that the regulations take into consideration the medical and practical aspects of compliance. The DHA also conducted multiple workshops with the private and public sector to ensure smooth implementation of the regulations.”
Giving an instance of the kind of regulations in place for oncology services, Dr Al Marzouqi said that these were introduced keeping in mind the rise in the incidence of cancer and the need to standardise services.
“Dubai is the only place in the Middle East to put in place a comprehensive regulation on oncology. The regulation has three components — radiation, medical and surgical procedures. It also includes detailed requirements for health investment in this field so that new services are not duplicated and priority is given to investors who bring in services that are in demand or are needed in the field of oncology.”
© Gulf NewsJan 2016