An unintended consequence of mandatory health insurance in the UAE has been the commoditization of health plans. Health insurance used to be optional for people who want more control over their healthcare, choice about the services they use and the choice of doctor. What was once seen as an added benefit for some key employees is now mandatory for all employees– leading to a massive spike in demand for the health insurance. This is particularly relevant for employers with less than 100 employees, dependents of employees and domestic help. Under the Compulsory Health Insurance Law in Dubai, which aims to build homogenous health services for all, every employer is mandated to offer medical insurance to their employees.
Keeping up with a demand hike of this level is not necessarily an easy task, especially when insurance seekers and sponsors alike faced fines for non-compliance by a set deadline. Effective January 2017, more than 4 million people –98% of the Emirates’ population– have signed up for health insurance. The Dubai Health Authority has been lenient on their deadlines as the high influx of businesses applying for health insurance has made it difficult to insurance providers to keep up with the demand for first-time applicants, let alone provide support to existing insured.
Health insurance plans can be expensive and unwieldy to administer, and often times, there has been a discrepancy between the plans offered by employers and their employees’ expectations thereof. To bridge this gap, an employer has to keep certain factors in mind when considering an insurance plan. This will ensure that they pay only for benefits that are necessary, whilst avoiding benefits that are unutilized. Health insurance isn't the only aspect of the benefits package an employer offers, but needs to be one of the most important pieces considered. Failure to comply with UAE’s regulations could result in massive penalties, so it's important to be aware of the ins and outs.
Here the essential three tips that can help business owners win the health insurance game, while designing a comprehensive health package for their employees:
1. Evaluate and assess business and individual requirements
One of the most important decisions you must make about your business's benefits plan is what type of health insurance you can offer to your employees. Evaluate and assess business and individual requirements by asking a few questions upfront. This can help relieve employers from future headaches while simultaneously making sure that employees get the best deal with the budget spent on healthcare. An extensive study of the company’s insurance data will enable them to make informed decisions. Companies that already offer their employees’ health insurance can gather information from previous claims and review reports from insurance providers to determine the best plan for them. This type of data can help shed light on the ideal coverage for an individual, the most common ailments employees suffer from, the average number of individuals submitting claims every year etc. Such insights will help in finding the best scheme for employees and figuring out which special benefits must be included.
2. Identify the right insurance policy that work best for you
Employees without small business health insurance are less likely to get yearly check-ups or visit the doctor when sick. Which actually leads to a decrease in productivity. It is important that health insurance policies work for your business and for individuals covered under the scheme. Having to call several individual insurers can be time-consuming and can utilize a lot of resources. Despite the stringent Dubai Healthcare Authority (DHA) guidelines that insurers must meet to be eligible to operate in the UAE, it can still be overwhelming to find out which plan is best for you and you employees. Using a comprehensive and up-to-date platform that compares the best health insurance policies is one option that can save time and resources. This way, employers can be certain they are getting the maximum benefits on their healthcare spends. At times, a competitive insurer may offer similar benefits at a lower cost or more benefits at the same cost.
3. Opt for an online provider
The ongoing digitalization of the e-health has come a long way since the announcement of mandatory health insurance in Dubai. Health insurance online portals has enabled employers to purchase and issue their health insurance online from a desktop or through a smartphone. Furthermore, these newly empowered employers who have signed up could even access and manage their policies online– without ever speaking to another person. This kind of tech-centric effort from health insurance providers was not the first– nor will it be the last as they pursue digital strategy perfection to empower their customers.
Given the March 31 deadline assigned in terms of providing health insurance, the penalties incurred for non-compliance will be retroactive– and thus applied for every month that the dependent was uninsured at a rate of AED500 per month. Healthcare costs are rising every year globally, and employers are doing everything possible to keep costs under control. By signing up for comprehensive group health plans, employers in the UAE could also innovatively manage their costs while providing the best long-term health benefits for their employees.