RAS AL KHAIMAH // A Ministry of Health official hopes everyone will be given access to health insurance by the end of the year amid growing pressure for compulsory schemes to be rolled out to the Northern Emirates.
Abdalla Al Ahmadi, director of finance and budgeting, spoke as residents in the Northern Emirates renewed calls for universal coverage as the final phase of Dubai’s mandatory health insurance reaches completion.
“It is still in the works,” said Mr Al Ahmadi, on ongoing plans to implement universal health cover. “But I hope, inshallah, by the end of the year we will see it.”
A federal law for mandatory insurance for workers across the country was drafted in 2013, after similar draft laws were considered in 2004 and 2007, but it has yet to be realised.
“There was a draft of the law for mandatory health insurance and we have worked on it and it is now the Ministry of Finance in charge to follow for issue of this law,” said Mr Al Ahmadi. “I hope it will happen soon because there are growing pressures on the government.
“There is [mandatory health cover in Abu Dhabi] and there is in Dubai but not in the Northern Emirates.”
Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, director of public health funding at Dubai Health Authority, also believed residents can expect to see mandatory health cover implemented in the Northern Emirates soon.
“I know this is in process for some time and I am sure at some point it will come,” he said.
Talal Bayaa, co-founder of the Dubai medical insurance technology start-up Bayzat, said it was time that mandatory health cover was introduced in all emirates.
“Regulating health insurance in the Northern Emirates seems inevitable at this point,” he said. “New regulations should not be rushed, so it will take some time for the relevant authorities to mobilise and roll out a strategy.
“Hopefully all residents of the UAE will have the benefit of mandatory health insurance in the near future.”
When done right, having mandatory health insurance has many benefits for residents, said Mr Bayaa.
“Firstly, policies will be more heavily regulated to ensure adequate, and fair, cover is being provided to everyone,” he said. “It also promotes innovation within the insurance sector which, in turn, gives customers more options.
“Lastly, insuring your health and well-being is the ultimate form of risk prevention. Medical conditions and chronic disease rates continue to increase each year, so having a regulated system to share the costs between all stakeholders is crucial.”