Health insurance creates uncertainty for ministers

Two different ministers say that putting in place a nationwide health insurance scheme for Emiratis is not the responsibility of their portfolio.

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ABU DHABI //A second minister has told the FNC that he is not responsible for putting in place a nationwide health insurance scheme for Emiratis.

Two weeks ago, the Minister of Health, Dr Abdulrahman Al Owais, appeared before the FNC and said that enacting the law fell not under his department, but the Ministry of Finance.

Yesterday it was the turn of the Finance Minister to deny responsibility. In a written answer, Obaid Al Tayyer told members that his department had finished preparing the draft law, which had been passed to Cabinet and then to the Ministry of Justice's technical legislative committee.

That committee has met at least twice, in December 2010 and two weeks ago. It was supposed to meet again, on January 10, but Mr Al Tayyer's January 11 letter gave no indication of whether the meeting had happened as planned.

While Abu Dhabi has the free Thiqu health insurance scheme for Emiratis, other emirates offer less comprehensive coverage. "The health insurance for locals differs between emirates," said Ahmed Al Amash, who described it as an issue "of utmost importance to UAE nationals".

"If we compare Abu Dhabi with other emirates, in Abu Dhabi we have health prevention, where as other emirates there is a need for treatment," he said.

He has now put the request for an update on the state of the nationwide scheme to the Justice Minister, Dr Hadef Al Dhahiri, who is obliged to respond at the next FNC meeting.