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SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT - NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

ISAHD: New health insurance system in Dubai
posted on 29/01/2014

The mandatory health insurance system announced by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will be known as ISAHD, Insurance System for Advancing Healthcare in Dubai, which also means "happiness" in Arabic.
"In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the DHA has branded the name of the health insurance system to mean happiness; this stems from H.H.'s words that the primary job of the government sector is to provide happiness to the people of Dubai," Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the DHA.
"Health insurance is a form of security and our aim is to ensure everyone in the emirate has access to essential healthcare in case they need it. The health insurance system will empower patients by providing them with the right to choose their health provider within the private or public sector." The roll out will take place in phases and every health insurance company that wants to provide health insurance will have to procure a health insurance permit from the DHA to be eligible to provide health insurance services.
"Insurance companies interested in providing the essential health benefits (EHB) package to resident employees with salaries below Dh 4,000 will have to undergo further qualifying criteria to ascertain their ability to provide an insurance package at an affordable rate. The premium for this package will range between Dh 500-700 per person per year." Al Yousuf said by the end of February, the DHA will publish the final list of approved healthcare companies. Once the list of published, the first phase of the roll out will begin.
In terms of the roll-out, Al Yousuf said, " Companies with 1000 or more employees will have to cover their staff before the end of October 2014.
Companies with 100 to 999 employees will have until the end of July 2015 and companies below 100 employees have until end of June 2016 to cover their employees. All spouses, dependents and domestic workers will also have to be covered by June 2016. They can start providing cover earlier, however, these dates are deadlines they must meet." - Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Daman introduces complete redesign of its health insurance plans
posted on 18/07/2013

The National Health Insurance Company - Daman has announced comprehensive changes to its former 'Enhanced plans' in response to market and client demands for tailor-made solutions.
Previously, all plans fell into a broad 'Enhanced' category defined by geographical boundaries; now in a bid to simplify clients' experience when selecting an appropriate health insurance plan, Daman has redesigned the available options into three concise categories: Core, Enhanced and Premier, according to an emailed press release by Daman.
-Core is an entry-level category of plans featuring essential benefits (inpatient, outpatient, emergency and maternity coverage) with annual coverage limits up to Dh300,000.
-Enhanced builds on the basics offered by the Core plans and adds second medical opinion from international experts; international medical emergency coverage; annual screening for prostate, breast and colorectal cancer. Plans under this category will have annual coverage limit between Dh500,000 and Dh5 million.
-Premier features all of the above benefits plus coverage for annual medical check-ups, alternative medicine, chiropractor services, home nursing and more. The Premier plan also has the largest healthcare provider network in the UAE and internationally. The annual coverage limit for this plan is Dh5 million.
Core and Enhanced plans are sub-divided into tiers: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Chrome, which offer greater customisation and affordability for clients to tailor plans to specific needs.
Further customisation is provided by choosing from additional 'Added Benefits' and 'Cost Optimisation' options which are then added to the base plan creating unique, cost-effective solutions.
Additional benefits include coverage for dental and optical medical services, alternative medicine and annual medical check-up while cost optimisation options include choices of deductible amounts and co-insurance on pharmaceuticals. For large organisations, this offers unmatched flexibility when creating company-wide programmes.
For clients with existing policies there will be no name changes until renewal. Clients will still be able to renew their existing policies with the same benefits under the new names. The Thiqa programme and Abu Dhabi Basic plan are not affected by this change. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UAE health insurance premiums may rise by up to 20% this year
posted on 25/04/2011

Medical insurance premiums could be in for a 10 to 20 per cent hike this year as insurers try to catch up with the spiralling cost of health care in the UAE. It could also be that the increases will become an annual exercise.
This year's hike would also be a response to the "abuse" of the current low-premium regime by some health care operators as well as those seeking treatment.
According to medical insurance industry observers, the cost of health care — for in- and out-patient treatment — has shot up by 30 to 40 per cent in the last three years, but the insurance premium charged has lagged considerably behind.
"It's fair to say the local health-care industry has not lagged in prescribing all manner of treatments… even when they are not required," said an official who oversees the healthcare insurance line at a leading local insurer.
"They know that if the patient is covered, it's more or less a given that the insurer would pay up. Most health-care operators assume that health insurers are there to facilitate their operating cashflows.

Cost strategy
"At the same time, many of those with medical insurance are also misusing the privilege by going to the doctor even for the mildest inconvenience. By raising insurance premiums, such practices can be checked… to an extent."
At the same time, blame should also be directed at the insurers as many of them have pursued group medical contracts by quoting the lowest possible rates.
The win at any cost strategy is now proving debilitating for the insurers.
Now, by raising the insurance premium on health care, they believe they would be able to get a better handle on managing their portfolio and making it "slightly" profitable. This is more so the case for insurers in Dubai, as there are no subsidies offered by the local authorities as there are in Abu Dhabi.
What is even more galling for health insurers is that the cost of drugs cutting across a broad swath of treatments has actually fallen slightly or been held in check by the local authorities. (In the UAE and across the Gulf, the government and the concerned agency recommend the retail prices of drugs.)
"In fact, price reductions are being discussed for drugs related to the treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, while the last time the aspirin protection price was raised was two years ago," said Dr M.K. Ebrahim, managing director of Docib Healthcare Management. "Recently, prices were raised on only a couple of vitamins, and that by 10 to 12 per cent."
But that does not mean local health-care facilities are necessarily prescribing the low-cost alternatives.
"There is definitely a misuse by certain doctors — and the institutions they represent — by prescribing expensive brands even if cheaper generic drugs are available for the same treatment and with the same results," said an insurer.
One reason that local health care insurers are moving towards a premium hike could also have to do with medical insurance being made mandatory for all employees in Dubai as well. This move has been in the works for several years, but the impression among industry circles is that it could happen this year.
As of now, only Abu Dhabi has mandatory health care insurance for all employees. Insurers believe they will be better served by making the premium hikes before Dubai comes out with its own version.
"Medical insurance has never been a highly profitable line in the UAE and in recent years insurers have been feeling the pinch from the substantial — and ever growing — claims outgo," said Abdul Khader Panakkat, senior director for claims at Nasco Karaoglan.
"So when the time comes for medical policy renewals, insurers have to rationalise their expenses. The proposed increases in premium is a testament to that."
All that remains to be seen is how far insurers are willing to go to raise premiums and, just as important, stick with them. Having made the decision, they would need to stick to it and not let any short-term drop in premium collection get in the way.
Insurers facing the heat
• Health care premiums in the UAE could be in for a 10 to 20 per cent increase this year.
• The steep increase in health care-related claims has led to haemorrhaging of insurers' financials.
• While drug price increases are controlled, hospitals have raised their rates on a slew of services — consulting fees, lab expenses, etc. — by well over 20 per cent in the last three years and more. – Gulf News

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Newborns are now automatically covered under Daman's Enhanced Plans
posted on 05/01/2011

The National Health Insurance Company- Daman, has announced that a newborn whose mother is insured within Daman's Enhanced Plans will now be automatically insured from 1st of January, free of charge, until the expiry of the mother's insurance plan.
At the time of birth, parents will be required to enrol their newborns, who will be covered free of charge until the expiry of their mother's insurance policy. At the renewal of the mother's policy, babies will be renewed and charged the renewal premium for the next year.
Dr. Michael Bitzer, Daman's Chief Executive Officer, commented: "With this new inclusion, we're ensuring that babies avail the same benefits as their mothers from the first day they are born. We are delighted to introduce yet another advantage to Daman's Enhanced Plans and hope that this new addition will act as a catalyst for the good health and wellbeing of both mother and child." - Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Khalifa orders exemption of fines on Daman policy holders who missed renewal date
posted on 31/05/2010

President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has instructed exemption of offenders of a circular issued by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) on May 4th from financial fines for failing to renew the National Health Insurance Company (Daman) health policy on time. The fine is Dh 300 for each delayed month.
Sheikh Khalifa's instructions were meant to ease financial burdens of a large segments of the Daman policy holders who were not able to renew their policies by the expiry date. The President's instructions aim at streamlining procedures for renewal of Daman health cards after services centres witnessing overwhelming rush from card holders to renew them to avoid fines which imposed by HAAD as of March 2009. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Special needs expats to benefit from Health Insurance Scheme
posted on 11/07/2009

Expatriates with special needs and those coming under certain categories are also eligible for the new health insurance cards, according to a media release.
Some of these cards were issued on Monday by the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD).
"The ‘Aonak' health insurance card, for people with special needs, orphans and their (foster) mothers and ‘Riaaya' card for prisoners, detainees and inmates in correctional institutions are only for non-nationals living in the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” Zaid Al Siksek, CEO of HAAD.
"(The) nationals are covered under (Daman's) Thiqa programme regardless,” he added.
Thiqa is the free Abu Dhabi health insurance scheme for UAE nationals, which is managed by the national health insurance company, Daman. There are over 580,000 Emiratis enrolled at Thiqa.
Al Siksek said that it is a self-funded scheme to be paid by the President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his brother General Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Dr Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Chairman of HAAD said holders of the new cards will be eligible for free treatment and complete care, without incurring any additional fees.
The cards coverage include treatment for inpatient and outpatient care in hospitals, clinics and emergency centres; cost of equipment and medical devices; nutritional therapy; physiotherapy; medication; psychological treatment in outpatient clinics as well as screening for early detection of 
disease.
The ‘Riaaya' card also includes coverage for maternity costs, including provision of health services for children accompanying the mother in prison and during periods of temporary release.
Card holders of the ‘Aonak' and ‘Riaaya' health cards can go for treatment at any SEHA (Abu Dhabi Health Services Company) hospitals in the emirate. – Khaleej Times

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Daman uncovers fraudulent practices by healthcare institutions
posted on 17/05/2009

The National Health Insurance Company, Daman has unveiled a number of fraudulent practices at some healthcare institutions.
Daman's Medical Audit Department employed and dispatched a team of 'Mystery-Shoppers' to a number of healthcare providers and has thus uncovered various cases of fraud.
Daman revealed that one provider filed false information with respect to the patients' symptoms, medical history and diagnoses as well as claiming for excessive tests and treatments that were not conducted.
Dr. Michael Bitzer, Daman's Chief Executive Officer, commented: 'It is our duty to protect our customers' best interest; fraudulent claims that go undetected will affect the underwriting process and ultimately result in unfairly increased premiums for customers.' He continued, 'Our Medical Audit Department employs trained and experienced professionals who are constantly working on detecting and preventing abuse to ensure the highest level of services'.
Dr. Rainer Petzel, Head of the Legal Department at Daman said, 'Health insurance fraud occurs across the world; through our Medical Audit Unit we are attempting to control and minimize the levels of fraud and abuse within the UAE '.
Daman has also uncovered a number of fraudulent cases where pharmacies have switched prescriptions based on patient requests and dispensed alternative products and cosmetics that are not covered by their insurance plans. Medical prescriptions are intended to supply the patient with specific medication for treatment of the diagnosed illness and this cannot be exchanged with any other product, e.g., cosmetic products.
Depending on the severity of the case, violating providers were either issued warning letters stating that the matter would be referred to HAAD and/or frozen from operating within Daman's healthcare providers' network.
Dr. Jad Aoun, Daman's Chief Medical Officer, commented 'Insurance fraud is a very serious criminal offense that is not to be taken lightly.' He added: 'Daman has imposed severe penalties on implicated providers and has also launched a full investigation to combat such fraud'.
Dr. Aoun concluded: 'Daman's Medical Audit team is instrumental in ensuring that Providers comply with Daman policies to ensure the correct usage of the health insurance scheme and to halt such occurrences'.
Daman has established an ethical framework and operational criteria that healthcare providers must adhere to in order to be contracted into Daman's network whereby any violation of Daman's policies will be met with firm action, said a statement from Daman. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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HAAD announces Thiqa Health Insurance Program for UAE nationals
posted on 12/02/2009

The Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) yesterday announced changes to the Thiqa Health Insurance Program for UAE Nationals, introducing a co-payment of 50pc for dental and pharmaceutical services in all private sector facilities.
The Thiqa Health Insurance Program for UAE Nationals was launched in May 2008 as part of the implementation of the Health Insurance Law and its regulations, and is provided by the National Health Insurance Company, DAMAN.
Launched by HAAD, the program provided all UAE Nationals working and residing in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with comprehensive free healthcare coverage at all private and public healthcare facilities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Over 500,000 UAE Nationals have enrolled in the program to date.
With increasing demand for dental services and pharmaceuticals, and with the increase in violations, HAAD decided to reduce the coverage to 50pc for dental treatments and pharmaceuticals in all private sector facilities, with the entitlement of obtaining pharmaceuticals prescribed in the private sector from public sector pharmacies free of charge.
HAAD revealed a large number of violations in the implementation of the health insurance program and schedule of benefits, and has taken action by reporting and transferring such cases to the relevant court in the Emirate. HAAD continuously monitors the health insurance programs, including Thiqa, and will continue to develop these programs to serve the interests of everybody.
The Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) supports the private healthcare and investment in this sector. The healthcare sector will not be negatively impacted by amendments made to the Thiqa program. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UAE Nationals to present Thiqa cards to obtain free medical services
posted on 05/01/2009

The National Health Insurance Company, Daman, is reminding all UAE Nationals registered in the Thiqa Program that they can obtain covered medical services free-of-charge at public and private healthcare facilities that are part of Daman's network as long as they present their cards.
The reminder comes after a number of cases were submitted to Daman where healthcare facilities had requested from thiqa patients to pay personally for the treatment in cash and then approach Daman for reimbursement.
"There is no need for any UAE National to pay in cash for any covered medical treatment, as long as he or she holds a valid Thiqa card," Daman's Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Michael Bitzer said in a comment.
"Daman has contracted with one of the largest network of health care providers, with more than 1515 hospitals, medical centers and pharmacies across the UAE. We have contracts in place with all these providers that stipulate that medical costs will be paid directly for thiqa members, providing the patient presents their Thiqa card at time of treatment, ensuring minimal inconvenience," he added.
Dr. Bitzer advised that should any UAE National holding a Thiqa card be asked by a health care provider to pay cash (except for any copayment and/or deductible amount) for any medical services, the patient should contact thiqa's 24/7 customer service department by calling the toll free number 800 4 80000 Daman is also working with its healthcare providers to remind them of the contracted protocols and the advice that should be given to thiqa patients.
More than 500,000 UAE Nationals have enrolled in the Thiqa program since its inception in June. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Daman issues 12,000 Visitor Plans since July 2008
posted on 02/09/2008

The National Health Insurance Company (Daman) has issued 12,000 Visitor Plans since the law's inception in late July 2008 in line with the Ministerial Decision No. 322/2008, which affects all applications for visit visas in the UAE.
Daman is the largest specialized health insurance company in the UAE to offer a comprehensive health insurance policy to all visitors, where the policy holder is covered with a limit of AED150,000 throughout Daman's extensive network of healthcare providers. The insured member is entitled to complete coverage for inpatient emergency treatment in a shared room.
Daman has already established operations and is offering the Visitor Plan for premiums of AED 40/70/90 for the respective periods of the visas of 40/70/100 days with selling points in the Ministry of Interior, Department of Naturalization and Residence offices in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Sharjah.
"Daman is working hard to make the customer's experience as smooth as possible, by opening new counters in the immigration department, customers will be able to finish the visa procedures quickly without having to visit our branches," said Dr. Michael Bitzer, CEO of Daman Dr. Bitzer added that Daman Visitor Plans are accepted by the Federal Department of Naturalization and Residence and that visitors arriving to Dubai and other emirates can enter with Daman's plan as they meet the criteria set by the government including the minimum limit of Dh150,000 and the types of services offered.
The Visitor Plans can also be purchased in Daman's Central Branch on Airport Road, Abu Dhabi, as well as the Al Ain Branch and the Dubai Sales Office in Healthcare City. The policies are processed and issued immediately upon the completion of the required documents.
Daman has also confirmed that it will be introducing the 180 -day policy catering to the UAE multiple entry visa very shortly.
Daman will soon establish other outlets at the Abu Dhabi International Airport and across the UAE to ensure a convenient geographical reach for all its customers.
The Visitor Plans do not cover dental and optical treatment, or treatment received from a provider outside Daman's network, with the exception of life threatening cases that need to be treated in the emergency room. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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New low-income categories to get health insurance cover
posted on 03/07/2008

New categories of low-income persons will be eligible to enjoy services provided under the basic health insurance cover according to an amendment introduced by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council (ADEC) to the executive regulations of Law No 23 of 2005 for the health insurance in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The ADEC resolution No 47 of 2008 was taken upon a recommendation by the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) with the aim of expanding the umbrella of the Dh600 Basic Health Insurance Plan (BHIP). Under the new rules, new group of beneficiaries will be enrolled for the Abu Dhabi Plan while total salary bracket for receiving such a privilege will also be changed.
Beneficiaries of the BHIP will include expatriates drawing a monthly total salary package of AED 4,000 with accommodation or AED 5,000 without accommodation, dependents of resident expatriates who are not covered by insurance offered by their employers, poor non-nationals and humanitarian critical cases. HAAD is authorised to set regulations for these cases.
The resolution also ended as of July 1st, 2008 the exclusive right of the National Health Insurance Company (Daman) to provide compulsory and optional health services to all non-national government employees and their dependents. HAAD Chairman Dr. Ahmed Al Mazrourie said the aim of the amendment will allow low-income segments to continue receive health insurance services under the BHIP especially after the recent hike in their salaries. 'The move will also open the door for more individuals to enter the BHIP,' he explained. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Private sector firms can provide health insurance
posted on 04/06/2008

The National Health Insurance Company — Daman yesterday announced its decision to give up its status as the exclusive health insurance provider for government organisations. The move aims at strengthening the health insurance market in Abu Dhabi.
Following the decision, the other registered insurance companies will be eligible to provide health insurance to government employees, in direct competition with Daman, an official of the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), announced.
Since the launch of Daman in 2006, a governmental decree had made the company the only insurance provider for expatriates working in government and semi-government institutions in the capital. Since then, Daman has rapidly grown to attract 1,050,000 members, and currently holds an 80 eighty per cent market share in the capital.
As a result of this exclusive privilege given to Daman, other insurance companies were pushed out of the market of government health insurance, and were restricted to private health insurance alone.
"Some insurance companies lost around 100,000 members and our own insurance company lost 2,000 members," said Wesam Ibrahim, head of Life and Medical Insurance at Al Wathba National Insurance Company (AWNIC).
Speaking to Khaleej Times, he hailed the decision, saying it was a democratic move that would allow for equal competition between all insurance companies.
"The quality of healthcare delivery is unlikely to be affected by increased competition between insurance companies, as the standards for health providers and insurance companies are set and enforced by HAAD. What will happen is that the share of private insurance companies will increase, which could lead to their expansion." In addition, government organisations will also be the big winners of this decision, as health insurance companies will reduce their prices in a bid to compete," he added. –Khaleej Times

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Dubai employees, their dependants to receive comprehensive healthcare cover
posted on 03/05/2008

Dubai government has announced a comprehensive health insurance to be provided to government employees and their dependants, with immediate effect. Government employees, including all UAE nationals as well as expatriate residents, will now have access to a range of healthcare services and facilities for the first time.
Commenting on the new scheme, His Excellency Ahmed Bin Byat, Secretary General of the Executive Council, said: "Our staff are our most important asset and their continued good health remains one of our key priorities. Therefore, following the introduction of its new HR law, the Government has made a commitment to provide comprehensive healthcare cover for all its employees as well as their dependents." As per directives from the Executive Council, human resources department of each government entity will be writing to each employee shortly with full details of the new scheme. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Compulsory health cover scheme for nationals launched in Abu Dhabi
posted on 29/04/2008

The Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HA-AD) has commenced the execution of a scheme for periodic medical examination "Weqaya" and a health insurance scheme "Thiqa" for nationals in Abu Dhabi.
This announcement was made yesterday at a press conference held by HA-AD in Abu Dhabi with representatives from Daman and Seha attending, where HE Dr. Ahmad Mubarak Al Mazroui, Chairman of HA-AD announced the mandatory Periodic Medical Examination "Weqaya" and Health Insurance Scheme "Thiqa" for National of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and those of similar status. According to this scheme, healthcare treatment and services for all those included will be provided by both public and private healthcare provider facilities, in line with Daman's benefits schedules that are validated by HA-AD.
The National Health Insurance Company - Daman is assigned as a Third Party Administrator (TPA) company through its new Thiqa programme, where it will be the exclusive company providing benefits to Nationals and those included in the scheme. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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No change in health insurance premium of Daman in 2008
posted on 26/11/2007

The Health Authority in Abu Dhabi (HA-AD) and Daman for health insurance reached an agreement today, according to which, DAMAN will keep the premium for the basic product stable at EAD 600 for the year 2008. The basic product is a health insurance product exclusively provided by DAMAN to individuals (and their dependants) with incomes not exceeding Dh3,000 with housing or Dh4,000 without housing.
The basic product provided by DAMAN and closely supervised by HAAD covers healthcare services within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi through an authorized network of healthcare providers with an upper limit of Dh250,000 annually. HAAD compliments DAMAN on having achieved the goal of price stability through a continued focus on efficiency and customer value.
'It is one of our key objectives as a regulator to ensure affordable healthcare for all residents of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and we do not want to unnecessarily increase the burden on the employers who finance the health insurance premiums for their expatriate employees. We therefore are proud to have reached the agreement with DAMAN to not raise prices on the basic product and hope that other insurers will pay equal attention to maintaining price discipline' said Dr. Finn Goldner, Head of Health System Financing, HA-AD (Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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Abu Dhabi-based federal employees to be covered by Daman
posted on 18/06/2007

Minister of State for Financial & Industrial Affairs Dr Mohammed Khalfan Kharbash has issued a circular on provision of health insurance scheme for employees of federal government in Abu Dhabi.

The move was made following a resolution by the Ministerial Commission for Services, approving application of Abu Dhabi's local law 23 for 2005 which makes it incumbent upon all federal government employees in the capital to be covered by health insurance, provided by the National Health Insurance Company (Daman) according to the following rules:
First: Subsidized Plan for employees who draw a total salary of Dh 4,000 or less, or Dh 3,000 or less plus accommodation

Second: UAE Plan for employees who draw a total salary of more than Dh 3,000 or Dh 3,000 plus accommodation, according to age groups specified in the scheme, with fees ranging between Dh 1,025 and Dh 5,379 per annum.

Third: The government shall bear insurance expenses of the male/female employee, employee's wife, provided that she is under her husband's sponsorship and that she is not employed and three of the employee's children at maximum who should be less than 18 years and sponsored by one of their parents.

The employee should bear insurance expenses of other family members.

The regulations also provide for exempting federal government employees and their family members from the fines arising from delay in renewing their residence visas if that was due to the halt in the application of health insurance system.

The circular called on ministries under secretaries and directors of independent federal entities to take all necessary steps to implement the resolution on changing duration of their employees' residence visas accordingly. The application of the scheme shall be limited to federal employees whose places of work are based in Abu Dhabi. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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Compulsory health cover will cost employers Dh4b
posted on 08/05/2007

New compulsory health insurance schemes for expatriates and their dependents could cost employers up to Dh4 billion across the UAE, according to estimates made by an international law firm. If the law introduced in Abu Dhabi in January is replicated in Dubai, it will add to the companies' mounting list of costs, which include increasing wage demands and rocketing office rents.

On January 1, all residents working in companies with less than 1,000 employees and their dependents, expatriates sponsored by Emiratis, and all residents of the capital, including visitors with visas valid for more than two months, became eligible for the mandatory health law.

Clyde & Co, a law firm with offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, estimates that compulsory health insurance in Dubai will cost employers more than Dh1.5 billion.

"From a cost perspective, the responsibility appears to rest squarely on the shoulders of the employers - whether it is a big international firm or employers of domestic helpers," said Wayne Jones, a partner at Clyde & Co in the UAE as quoted by Gulf News.

However, reports that compulsory health insurance will be extended throughout the UAE will be warmly received by the country's health insurance industry. "The scheme will provide huge boosts for the health insurance industry, which is a key and growing part of the economy of the UAE," Jones said.

"We expect that a new scheme will soon be introduced to Dubai and will conservatively provide up to Dh1.5 billion in additional premiums per year for the insurance industry in the emirate and up to Dh4 billion across the UAE as it is introduced across the country." Jones said compulsory health insurance is a positive development for expatriate employees and their dependents. But he cautioned that as the scheme is introduced in the UAE, there is a risk that different schemes with different requirements for the industry will lead to confusion and additional demands being placed on the medical insurance market.

"What the industry does not need at this stage in its development is a multiplicity of systems each having a range of different requirements for insurers, employers and policy holders," he said. "This will just confuse the market, potentially adding additional cost burdens onto the providers and, therefore, ultimately to employers," he added. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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New unified health insurance system in Dubai for nationals and non-nationals
posted on 01/04/2007

Final touches are being put on the major reconstruction plan of Dubai health sector, according to the Dubai Executive Council and Dubai Health Services Department.

The plan which is part of the a wide-ranging and far-reaching strategy recently launched by H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai is aimed at boosting the quality of the emirate's health services to create a sound and safe health situation as well as re-structuring the administrative organization of the whole health sector in line with the world's most advanced standards.

A unified one-cover-all health insurance system covering UAE nationals and expatriates is expected to be mandated by the said plan to drive Dubai's governmental health sector into competition with private hospitals and health centres to provide high-standard health care and medical services and top-quality staff for all Dubai residents.

The reforms will also mandate stricter and ruthless control and supervision procedures are to be applied for locally-made and imported foods as well as on medications and pharmaceuticals. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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Daman, Assist America join hands for Global Emergency Healthcare Services
posted on 14/09/2006

The National Health Insurance Company, Daman, has signed an agreement with Assist America, the world's largest provider of global emergency services through group benefit plans, to provide emergency healthcare to its premium policy holders.

Daman, the UAE's first specialised national health insurance company, is the first UAE-based health insurance company to partner with Assist America, which has more than 33 million customers worldwide.

Under the agreement, Daman's premium policy holders will have worldwide emergency coverage 24/7, 365 days per year, whenever they are travelling more than 100 miles from their country of residence for more than 90 days.

Effective immediately, all holders of Daman's Regional, International and Global policies can call a dedicated operation centre staffed with doctors and qualified medical practitioners. This operations centre will personally service members, facilitating medical care at appropriate hospitals, arranging emergency medical evacuations, overseeing care of dependents, transporting family members for compassionate visits, arranging return of mortal remains and many other services as required.

Assist America has provided Daman customers with an exclusive Operations Centre phone number to call in times of need. The Assist America emergency response team that answers the phone is made up of trained multilingual medical practitioners, including doctors and nurses, who can advise and assist quickly and professionally in a medical emergency. This team can activate a seamless and powerful global resource network of more than 600,000 pre-qualified service providers to respond to any member's emergency situation.

Assist America, which has direct billing agreements with 2200+ hospital partners in more than 88 countries, then liaises with Daman to ensure necessary care is delivered.

Founded in 1990, Assist America, Inc. is the world's largest provider of global emergency assistance in partnership with insurance benefit plans. Its worldwide network of professionals responds quickly to any eligible participant who becomes medically compromised while travelling more than 100 miles from home.

From simple doctor referrals to complex intercontinental evacuations and more, Assist America saves lives every day. The company, headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, USA, serves more than 22 million members and over 250,000 enterprises through benefit programs from the world's most prominent insurance providers. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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New health insurance scheme for residents will be cheaper
posted on 24/01/2006

A planned nationwide insurance scheme ready for implementation by year-end will be cheaper than current policies, an official told Gulf News. Hamad Abdul Rahman Al Midfa, Minister of Health, announced on Sunday that the new insurance policy would improve medical services.

Hassan Al Alkeim, Under Secretary of the ministry, told Gulf News that the scheme will be "cheaper" and divided into three categories. "Residents can choose to be insured on primary healthcare, hospital services or have full coverage on all medical services."

He said the project is being handled by the Ministry of Finance but provided by the health ministry." A newly established council will supervise the project. The council will ensure that insurance prices in the UAE are not too high, so insurance companies will not have the freedom to randomly increase prices." He added that the council will regulate the relationship between the insurance company, the hospital and the employer. (The Gulf News)

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Mohammed bin Zayed issues decree setting up NHIC board
posted on 13/11/2005

The first board of the National Health Insurance Company NHIC, has been formed. A decree to that effect has been issued by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The board has as its Chairman Dr. Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazroue of the General Authority for Health Services, GAHS and Waleed Al Muqarrab Al Muhairi from the Mudadala Development Company as vice Chairman. Other members of the board include Khalid Abdullah Al Qubaisi of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Khalid Abdullah Al Mass of the Abu Dhabi Investment Company, Ibrahim Abdul Latif Al Musa of the GAHS and Mohammed Mubarak Al Mazrouei of the Mubadala Development, in addition to the strategic partner. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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National Health Insurance plan by the year-end
posted on 20/09/2005

The much-awaited national health insurance system that will cover nationals and expatriates will be implemented by this year-end, said Hassan Ahmed Al Alkim, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Health. The insurance scheme has been designed to replace the existing health card and serve both the public and private sectors.

It aims to ensure availability of drugs at affordable prices, reduce the pressure on pubic health services and guarantees that employers will shoulder medical expenses of their employees, according to a report in Khaleej Times.

The Cabinet has sanctioned setting up of a special committee, comprising representatives from ministries of Health, Finance and Industry and Labour and Social Affairs to study mechanisms of implementing the new system. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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