UAE: Abu Dhabi Expats, Emiratis to Pay More for Health Coverage

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By Jenny David

Oct. 6—Both expatriate and local workers will have to pay more for private health care under changes to Abu Dhabi's national health insurance plans (Thiqa) recently announced by Health Authority Abu Dhabi.

Changes to the Abu Dhabi Basic Plan—issued to foreign workers together with their Abu Dhabi work visas by the state-owned Daman National Health Insurance Company—could also increase employers' costs, since health insurance is often part of compensation packages for skilled workers.

Although coverage costs remain open to individual negotiation, the change allows employers to shift to employees up to half of the cost of insuring workers aged 40 and over, their wives and up to three children. The worker will have to cover the full cost of insurance for other dependants, such as parents and additional children, HAAD said. The authority also added to the plan a mandatory maternity surcharge of 750 dirham ($204) for married women aged 18 to 50.

Expat Premiums Jump

HAAD raised the annual premium for basic health coverage from 600 dirham to 800 dirham ($163 to $218) for expatriate employees under age 18, 1,500 dirham ($408) for those aged 18-40, 3,000 dirham ($817) for 41 to 59 year olds and 5,500 dirham ($1,497) for employees aged 60 and above.

For foreign workers who earn less than the plan's 5,000 dirham ($1,361) a month ceiling, the co-pay could be significant.

HAAD director of corporate communications Adeeb Al Zaabi said in a statement that the changes are “necessary for the viability of the healthcare sector” and “an important new step toward fulfilling our vision for a healthier Abu Dhabi.”

“These measures will further contribute to our ongoing efforts to increase efficiency, standardize operations and increase the sector's financial viability—for the benefit of the patient and the healthcare system as a whole,” the director said.

Locals Also Pay More

Emiratis covered by the Thiqa health plan will now have to pay 20 percent of the cost of treatment at private hospitals, which used to be fully covered, and 50 percent of the cost of treatment outside Abu Dhabi, up from 10 percent. They will continue to receive full coverage at government hospitals in the emirate—and outside it, if the service or treatment is not available in Abu Dhabi.

Thiqa members will also be covered for only one in vitro fertilization treatment at a governmental healthcare facility per year, down from three; orthodontic braces for those above 18 years of age are no longer covered unless they are a medical necessity; and medicines prescribed at a private healthcare facility will only be dispensed at a private pharmacy, raising their cost as well.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jenny David in Jerusalem at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at

For More Information

HAAD's announcement is available in English here.

For more information on UAE HR law and regulation, see the UAE primer.

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