Abu Dhabi health insurer to limit medical private treatment for Emiratis to capital

UAE nationals in Abu Dhabi must pay for elective private medical treatment in the other emirates from this week

AJMAN , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð June 15 , 2014 : Hessa Ali , Emirati trainee doctor talking to the patient at Khalifa hospital in Ajman. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News. Story by Melanie Swan
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Emiratis living in Abu Dhabi will now have to pay for medical treatment in private hospitals outside of the capital.

Daman, Abu Dhabi's publicly-owned medical insurer, has revamped its coverage to encourage UAE nationals to use public and private facilities in the emirate.

The change to the Thiqa card system, which phases out all direct billing at hospitals, took effect from October 13.

Emiratis currently undergoing treatment outside Abu Dhabi have until January 2021 to transfer to a facility in the capital, the company said on its website.

Emiratis can still use services in government-run hospitals across the country and in any hospital in emergency.

All insurance approvals submitted before October 13 will be cancelled if treatment has not begun.

Daman declined to comment further, but said more details were due to be released in the coming days.

The regulations published on its website do not specifically rule out reimbursement, which would allow patients to pay up front for treatment and then apply to their insurer to cover part or all of the cost.

Thiqa is one of the country's most comprehensive health insurance programmes and is offered to Emiratis living in Abu Dhabi. It previously covered most areas of treatment at most hospitals and clinics in the country.

UAE nationals in Dubai and the Northern Emirates have a separate system for medical cover.

In recent years, Abu Dhabi's health authorities have brought in policies to encourage both Emiratis and expats to use the emirate's well-funded public and private hospitals, rather than seek medical treatment abroad.

Emiratis can apply for specialised treatment abroad to be funded by the government. The request is handled by special committees, which look at a range of factors, including whether such treatment is already available in the emirates.

Who is eligible for Thiqa cover?

  • Emiratis living or working in Abu Dhabi. Their spouse and children are eligible for the insurance programme, as well as the parents of the working Emirati, provided they have proof of residency
  • Emiratis who own property in Abu Dhabi. The owner is covered as well as their spouse and children. The owner's parents are also eligible fro Thiqa once they provide proof of residency
  • Emirati students studying in Abu Dhabi. Only the student is covered and they require a letter of proof from their university
  • Emiratis renting in Abu Dhabi. Tenant's coverage is limited to public hospitals in Abu Dhabi