New international health insurance plan launched for SMEs in Dubai

A new tiered international private medical insurance plan has recently been introduced in Dubai, targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The policy aims to build upon the current model, with increased benefits and cover for employees’ families, among other changes. With 42% of Dubai’s labour force working for an SME, contributing 40% of its GDP, this new insurance plan will have a significant impact on a large proportion of the emirate’s working population.

The policy is, of course, good news for the emirate’s expat community. The minimum health plan, only implemented in 2014, is a requirement under the mandatory health insurance law. However, cover is basic, assigning only Dh1,500 (just over USD $400) per annum per person for the cost of medicine. What’s more, some treatments require a 30% to 50% contribution from employees, making it cheaper for some expats to go back to their home countries for treatment. Avoiding such issues will of course benefit both the employee and the company.

What is yet to be established, however, is how much the insurance plan will cost for SMEs. With the price of running a business in Dubai steadily increasing, this additional expense may be too much for some of the smallest enterprises. However, according to Malcolm Wright, head of partner commercial distribution for Oman Insurance Company, “SMEs are starting to adopt long-term recruitment and talent retention strategies to support business objectives”. Therefore, what employers need to bear in mind is how the plan could increase incentives for international employees to remain within the company. As Christos Adamantiadis, CEO of OIC, stated: “For an SME focused on growth, employees’ health is a key concern.”

Since the mandatory insurance plan was put into effect, the number of SME clients in Dubai has already increased by between 5% and 7%, according to Essam Disi, director of strategy and policy at Dubai SME. With the introduction of a more extensive policy aimed specifically at such enterprises, this figure could increase at an even faster rate within the next few years.

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