Expats in Dubai rush to beat healthcare deadline

Published:  29 Dec at 6 PM
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Dubai residents are struggling to find suitable healthcare policies before the cut-off date of December 31.

Dubai expats faced with the emirate’s new requirements to purchase healthcare insurance are struggling to meet Saturday’s deadline in order to avoid the monthly 500 dirham fines and problems with their visa extensions. To date, 98 per cent of Dubai residents have complied with the new law, leaving around 800,000 still unable to find cover. The start date of the new law, which applies both to employees and to their dependents, was deferred for six months from June 30th, but no more extensions will be allowed.

Getting cover is proving challenging, with the basic EBP package costing around Dh600 only available from nine of the 50 participating health insurance companies. When approached by the Gulf Times on Wednesday, only one of the nine companies was able to provide the necessary cover by Saturday.

Internationally-known AXA told reporters the process time for new healthcare insurance customers was set at three working days. AXA’s representative said the office was overloaded with requests, adding that 10 calls per minute were coming in. Of the other eight companies, two are using recorded messages before cutting the line, with two more stating a visit to their offices would be necessary in order to get cover.

One expat who attempted to attend in person said only one employee was working at the insurer's office resulting in lengthy queues. He added other insurers’ phone lines were engaged all the time. Many who’d travelled to their home countries for the festive season are rushing to legalise their positions before the time limit runs out. Basic cover ranges between DH565 to DH1,750, plus a month’s fine for those unable to get insurance in the next two days.
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