Dubai’s mandatory health insurance scheme, currently under review, could be implemented as early as 2012, reports Claire Ferris-Lay on Arabian Business. This would involve only the initial stages of the plan, which would require every company to offer basic healthcare packages to both local and expat staff.
Ferris-Lay quoted Dr. Yousuf Haider, Director of Healthcare at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA):
The idea is that private health insurance in Dubai will be mandatory so every employer will have to provide their employees with a health insurance cover.
The insurance scheme was first announced in 2008, but was delayed due to the financial crisis and global recession, which hit Dubai’s real estate and financial sectors particularly hard. It initially offered employers the choice of either providing private insurance to employees or paying for their enrollment in a government-run insurance scheme. Under the revised plan, companies will purchase private insurance for their employees, including expats.
The previous model was more like a social insurance model so there was a major role for the government in centrally collecting the funds and distributing the funds to clinics. This has been changed into more of a private health insurance model with a strong regulator.
Earlier in October the DHA announced it had postponed the scheme till 2013 to give businesses more time to prepare for the new rules. They have been critical of the DHA plan, saying it is a mistake to attempt such sweeping reform (and place a large cost burden on their shoulders) when the global economy seems teetering on the brink of another recession. According Arabian Business, the DHA says it has taken that into account.
This is going to be rolled out gradually. Those who have had more impact [from the economic downturn] will come at the end [...] We are looking at a total roll-out period of at least two to three years. It has been designed with the economy in mind so that it adds to the economy and doesn’t become a burden. When the premium is clearly affordable the impact is minimal.