DUBAI // Incentives offered by insurers for people to live a healthy life and bring down the cost of health cover have been backed by Dubai Health Authority.
Daman, the UAE's largest insurer, has mooted the idea of introducing incentives for insurance holders who display healthy living and responsibly use treatment when needed. And it is a move the health authority (DHA) sees as being part of the UAE's future healthcare system.
Speaking on the sidelines at the Mena health insurance congress in Dubai, Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, director of health funding at the DHA, said incentives were the future.
“We are currently looking at different ideas for our own reward scheme that will go live soon; we fully believe in the concept,” he said.
“It is something that has to happen and is clearly the way forward. It will reward healthy behaviour with incentives that will further encourage a healthy lifestyle.”
The DHA reward points can be banked once a user logs on to Isahd, the mandatory health insurance programme’s website, and becomes a member.
Rewards include free access to specialised health professionals or services, healthy meal vouchers, gym membership and free subscriptions to health magazines.
Once-generous policy benefits are being trimmed across the region as governments and companies tighten their belts.
However, Dr Al Yousuf dismissed claims that reduced health cover offered by some employers would make the UAE a less appealing place to work for skilled workers.
“If an employer was once offering certain benefits and then decided to reduce those benefits for whatever reason, that is the employer’s choice,” he said.
“An essential benefits package will define what is necessary by law for everyone to have. Before the mandate, when some employers were choosing to provide a certain type of health cover, it was entirely optional.
“It is up to the employer to decide how attractive they want health packages to be for workers, whatever their strategy is.”
All Dubai residents would be required to have mandatory health insurance by June 30, with businesses flouting new rules risking heavy fines of up to Dh500,000. The date marks the deadline set for the third and final phase of the compulsory health insurance law for small and medium-sized businesses.
Despite more people being insured, many were not aware of their level of health cover, according to Dr Anita Nair, head of the insurance department at Saudi-German Hospital, Dubai.
“Most patients just turn up at the hospital expecting to have their healthcare costs paid for,” she said.
To register your business with the DHA rewards scheme, log on to community.isahd.ae.