UAE announces mandatory health insurance for private sector

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The UAE Cabinet, chaired by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has announced the implementation of mandatory health insurance for all private sector employees starting January 1, 2025. This decision comes alongside the approval of a UAE-wide health insurance system during a recent cabinet meeting.

While private sector employees in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are already covered under their respective health insurance systems, this move will extend coverage to private sector employees in other emirates and domestic workers who currently lack health insurance.

As per the announcement, all employers in the private sector and those employing domestic workers will be required to pay for health insurance for their registered employees upon issuing or renewing their residency permits.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) will spearhead awareness campaigns and facilitate the activation of the health insurance scheme starting next year.

In addition to the health insurance mandate, Sheikh Mohammed also approved a restructuring of MoHRE, introducing a new coordinating council for the UAE labor market. This measure aims to ensure the stability and competitiveness of the labor market, with Sheikh Mohammed emphasizing the importance of addressing workforce concerns and safeguarding their rights for the advancement of the national economy.

Once rolled out, will employees be required to pay for the insurance scheme?

No. By law, employers and sponsors will be required to bear the costs for their staff and domestic workers. It’s not immediately clear if the law will obligate companies to pay for schemes for their employees’ family members.

How will the UAE enforce the rule?

According to a statement released by the UAE Cabinet, employers will need to get a healthcare package for their workers while issuing or renewing their residency permits. This means providing a plan to an employee or domestic worker could be linked to visa issuance or renewal, as is the case in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In both emirates, visas are not issued or renewed unless the applicant has valid health coverage.

Will there be a fine for not getting health coverage for employees?

Penal measures have not been specified yet for the UAE-wide scheme. For existing schemes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, fines range from Dh300-500 per month per individual.

What will the insurance scheme cover?

The UAE has not yet spelt out what the mandatory insurance would cover for beneficiaries. However, even essential benefits plans or basic packages — which employers in Dubai get for staff earning less than Dh4,000 a month — cover “emergencies, surgeries, medical diagnosis, medication, both outpatient and inpatient treatments, and maternity care”, according to insurance aggregator Policybazar.

“With that said, there are certain limitations and conditions in place along with co-insurance requirements where the insured person is responsible for a portion of the cost,” the company says on its website.

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