By 30 June 2016, all employers in Dubai must have arranged medical insurance coverage for their employees. Failure to do so may result in the imposition of penalties. Perhaps of greater concern, employees who do not have insurance cannot renew residence visas and it will not be possible for employers to obtain visas for individuals for whom they cannot demonstrate coverage. There are no exceptions to this rule.
The Dubai Health Insurance Law, which obligates employers to arrange medical insurance coverage for all employees was passed in 2013 and has been gradually implemented between October 2014 and June 2016. Aimed at ensuring that all residents in Dubai have access to quality healthcare, the law requires that everyone falling within its scope be adequately covered. All employers with over 100 employees should already have coverage in place and now, in the final phase of implementation, employers with fewer than 100 employees must ensure that arrangements are made for their employees by the end of June.
Health insurance must be provided by one of 46 authorised insurers. For large multi-national employers, often with global health insurance packages in place for employees, consideration should be given to whether that global arrangement complies with the law. In particular, employers should satisfy themselves that coverage in the UAE is provided by an authorised insurer. In some cases, it will be necessary to reform existing global arrangements in order to ensure compliance with the law or even to have secondary local insurance in place to be compliant with the law. If necessary, employers will have to restructure their existing arrangements to meet this criteria by the first renewal date (and no later than 12 months) after the implementation deadline specified for a company of their size.
In terms of coverage of any insurance package, requirements are fairly limited and employers are only required to obtain insurance for their employees (in contrast to the position in Abu Dhabi which obliges employers to cover employees and their family members). Further, for the purposes of the scope of any insurance plan, the law distinguishes between employees based on their earnings. Employees earning less than 4,000 dirhams must be covered by an insurance plan which meets the essential benefits plan minimum. Nine of the 46 approved insurers provide an essential benefits plan. For employees who earn over 4,000 dirhams the employer may use any of the 46 insurers identified by the Dubai Health Authority.
In an attempt to manage the cost of premiums on employers, the DHA sets a pricing structure that limits the costs that can be charged for the basic level of coverage, which must include certain minimum benefits. However, insurers are free to dictate premiums for enhanced packages, which may cover a broader geographical area or premium facilities. There is scope for the DHA to issue rules on pricing of enhanced schemes, though no such rules have been issued to date.
This is a sponsored article written for Al Tamimi & Company by Natalie Jones, an Associate in the Employment Department at Al Tamimi & Company.
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