Dubai: A new health coverage system will be implemented in Dubai from January next year. It will allow residents access to basic and essential medical care through a central fund paid for by sponsors, a senior official said.

Each sponsor must pay between Dh500 and Dh800 annually to the Central Health Fund, for each beneficiary. The government will pay the fee for UAE nationals and employer for his or her employees. Husbands or parents will have to pay for their spouse and children.

Simon Hodges, senior adviser with the Dubai Executive Council, said employers would not be required to pay for their employees’ family.

“When it comes to dependents, the sponsors will be obliged to cover the costs of those individuals. If the employer chooses to pay for the individuals [dependents of employees], the system will allow that,” he said.



Benefits

The health fund entitles each individual to basic and essential services, such as child immunisation and outpatient care, at a Dubai clinic as well as emergency care. Plans are afoot to include cancer treatment to the list of services. Individuals may also supplement their health coverage with a private insurance policy.

Qadi Saeed Al Muroshid, director-general of Dubai Health Authority, told reporters that this was the most equitable system.

“The reason behind the change is to improve the healthcare service in Dubai – we believe the people of Dubai, national or non-national, they deserve a higher quality of service [to make] Dubai a safer and healthier place to work,” he said.

Registration

To access the system, each individual has to register at a clinic in Dubai. Residents will only have to pay Dh25 per visit to the clinic regardless of the ailment. The current system tailors the cost to the treatment received.

The new system also opens public and private healthcare facilities to all residents.

Under the present system, only health card holders may access public healthcare facilities, while privately-insured individuals are restricted to private facilities.

But for people who work in Dubai but live in other emirates, such as Sharjah, they may have to separately pay for healthcare if they go to facilities outside Dubai.

Al Muroshid said they are planning to integrate the healthcare funding system with the rest of the UAE.

“The way we are planning our system, [we will be integrating] at the local and federal level,” he added.