UAE: Mandatory Health Insurance Introduced in Dubai

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has declared that all Dubai businesses must arrange health insurance for their foreign employees by 30th June 2016.

75% of foreign employees in Dubai are currently covered as this three-stage scheme which began in October 2014, by which time companies with over 1,000 employees had arranged health insurance for their employees, with companies with between 100 and 999 employees complying by July 2015.

This final stage will apply to small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with less than 100 employees, and will cover the remaining 25% of the expat employee population.

As it not mandatory for the employer to provide cover for their employee”s dependants, employees may have to cover the costs of health insurance for their dependants, including their spouse, children and domestic workers.

All visa applications and renewal processes will require proof of qualifying health insurance, otherwise a visa will not be issued. It should be noted that the scheme only applies to expat employees, as Emiratis are automatically covered for health insurance by a government sponsored scheme.

What do I need to do as an employer?

The DHA have set out guidelines on the minimum amount of cover that an employer can provide, although they do encourage employers to be as generous as possible.

The employer must provide an annual limit of Dh150, 000 per person per claim, and pre-existing and chronic conditions must be covered in full, subject to a six month waiting period where the individual has not been covered for this in the UAE previously.

In-patient and out-patient treatment will both be covered with a 20% excess, with the former capped to a maximum of Dh500 per treatment and Dh1, 000 per year.

Maternity services will cover eight out-patient visits, in-patient treatment up to Dh7, 000 for normal delivery, and up to Dh10, 000 for medically advised caesarean delivery and other complications. All maternity services carry a 10% excess.

Finally, the cost of medicine will be capped at Dh1, 500 per person.

The employer is not obliged to cover their employer”s dependants, although should they wish to do this it is perfectly acceptable, and encouraged by the DHA.

It is important to note that all costs in relation to employee”s health insurance are to be met entirely by the employer; under no circumstances can these fees be passed on to the employee, neither directly or as a salary deduction.

The employer must arrange cover for all expat employees via any one of over 40 local health insurance companies authorised by the DHA, and all employees must be actively covered by 30th June 2016. Failure to arrange this by the deadline will result in fines of between Dh500 and Dh150, 000.

What do I need to do as an employee?

All foreign employees will be covered for health insurance by their employer, who will pay all costs in full.

However, if your employer has opted not to cover your dependants (they are not obligated to do so) it will be the employee”s responsibility to ensure that all of their dependants are covered. This includes their spouse, children, and also their domestic workers such as cooks and nannies.

The employee must arrange cover for all their dependants via any one of over 40 local health insurance companies authorised by the DHA, and all dependants must be actively covered by July 2016.

However, the DHA has issued a six month grace period until January 2017, during which time an individual will not be fined should they miss the July deadline for arranging cover.

What are the consequences of being non-compliant?

Aside from the monetary fines that will be incurred should an employer miss the deadline, the DHA has announced that it reserves the right to revoke business licences and proceed with civil and even criminal cases.

It will also be compulsory to include proof of cover with a local insurer in visa and renewal applications. If this has not been provided then visas will not be issued, causing considerable disruption to the hiring and retaining of employees.

Our recommendations

Employers should act immediately if they have not already done so, to implement the health insurance cover for all employees by the 30th June deadline. All employees must be covered by this date, and it can take up to two weeks for the cover to come into effect. Employers must use one of the authorised health insurance companies in order to ensure that visa applications and renewals are accepted by the authorities.

Employees have until July 2016 to arrange cover for their dependants, although should this deadline not be met no fines will be issued until January 2017 under the DHA”s six month grace period.

Should you need further information on health insurance in Dubai, or on UAE immigration in general, please email us at


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