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2023 Guide to Mandatory Health Insurance in Dubai

In Dubai, health insurance is mandatory, and companies must provide coverage to their employees once their work visa is issued. Insurance System for Advancing Healthcare in Dubai (ISAHD) is a Dubai Health Authority (DHA) initiative designed to provide quality healthcare to residents and visitors.

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This Pacific Prime UAE article is your comprehensive guide to mandatory health insurance in Dubai in 2023.

Unemployment Insurance Scheme

Before we start with health insurance, it is worth noting that starting January 1, 2023, the UAE has implemented the mandatory unemployment insurance scheme, which aims to ensure sustainability for residents while they are unemployed, giving them 60% of their basic salary for 3 consecutive months.

The UAE and the Gulf aim to attract more talent by doing so. Eligible residents can apply for insurance until the beginning of October 2023. Applying after that would cost an extra AED 400. Failure to register for the insurance might also result in deportation.

Who Needs to Apply?

  • Investors or self-employed
  • Workers who have temporary contracts
  • Part-time workers
  • Retirees who get a pension and have started working for a new employer
  • Domestic helpers
  • Everyone who is under the age of 18

As health insurance is usually provided by employers, unemployment means the loss of mandatory health insurance. The Unemployment Insurance Scheme acts as health insurance for 3 months in the meantime and provides financial subsidies to maintain personal health and well-being.

Mandatory Health Insurance 

According to the Health Insurance Law of Dubai No 11 (2013), residents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are required to have minimum health insurance coverage, which can be provided by an employer or sponsor.

With this requirement in place, residents and citizens will have more choices when it comes to health insurance. Depending on each Emirate, the cost and coverage of basic medical insurance will be different.

What is the Essential Benefits Plan?

The Essential Benefits Plan (EBP) is the minimum level of health insurance coverage that Dubai residents must meet by law. Dubai residents who are eligible for the EBP have a monthly salary of less than AED 4,000. This also includes dependents who are not working at all.

While those earning over the threshold are not eligible for the plan, their medical insurance will meet the same standards as a minimum. This scheme ensures that all lower-income employees, non-working residents, domestic helpers, and children have affordable access to high-quality healthcare.

Do My Dependents Need the EBP?

Whether your dependents need the EBP or not depends on certain specific situations.

You need the EBP for your dependents if:

  • You have uninsured dependents (spouse, children, parents, etc.)
  • You employ domestic help who earn under AED 4,000 per month

You do not need the EBP for your dependents if:

  • Your dependents are also insured by your employer
  • You have insured them under a separate insurance policy with a higher cover

Why is the Essential Benefits Plan Useful?

As the name implies, EBPs are standardized packages that offer essential benefits at affordable costs – from AED550 and 650 per year. Expats who cannot afford health insurance for their dependents due to excessive rates will find this option ideal. This will reduce healthcare costs associated with:

  • Regular illnesses
  • Check-ups
  • Emergency treatment
  • Other routine health requirements

However, an EBP is not useful if you’re looking for a higher annual limit or additional medical coverage. Since the basic plan is only valid in the UAE, it also won’t be useful if you’re looking for additional geographical coverage, such as overseas treatment.

Getting an enhanced plan to have coverage outside the UAE can cost up to 15,000 AED per annum – making the benefits of the EBP plan obsolete.

Who Needs to be Insured?

Your spouse, children, elderly parents, and domestic help must be insured in some way. Note that the premiums are higher for parents over the age of 65 due to health risks, and married females between the ages of 18 to 45 due to a higher chance of pregnancy.

If your housemaid, cook, driver, or other domestic help earns AED 4,000 or less per month, they will also have to be insured under the EBP. If they earn more than AED 4,000, then the employer can choose any scheme with other insurers, as long as it meets or exceeds the basic EBP plan’s benefits.

Note that employers are not legally allowed to reduce the employee’s salary or deduct the premium cost from their pay to make them eligible for the EBP plan.

Annual Premium Range

The annual premium range differs individually, with premium packages for EBP currently ranging from AED 650 to AED 725 per year for employees. Every year, DHA announces premium ranges that participating insurance providers for EBP must comply with.

For dependents, the premium range per annum is AED 650 for the general non-working group (aged 0 – 65), AED 1,600 for non-working married females (aged 18-45), and AED 2,500 for elderly parents. Similarly, the annual premium for general domestic help is AED 650.

What Medical Coverage Does the EBP Offer?

From inpatient and non-emergency medical treatments to ambulance and emergency healthcare, the basic Essential Benefits Plan (EBP) covers up to AED 150,000 for all claims. The following are all covered by the EBP.

  • Inpatient and non-emergency medical treatments – including diagnosis, surgeries, and tests with 20% payable by the insured. The expenses cannot exceed AED 500 per encounter or AED 1,000 per year.
  • Outpatient treatment – including tests and diagnosis, with 20% payable by the insured.
  • Physiotherapy sessions will be covered a maximum of six times per year, along with radiology and lab tests, with 20% payable by the insured.
  • Medicines up to AED 1,500 including 30% payable by the insured.
  • Ambulance and emergency healthcare in the case of an emergency.

Maternity Benefits

Maternity benefits are also provided for services before, during, and after the delivery.

  • Antenatal blood tests, three ultrasounds, and eight pre-delivery visits with 10% payable by the insured.
  • AED 7,000 for normal delivery and AED 10,000 for medically necessary Cesarean will be covered, with 10% payable by the insured.
  • Under the mother’s insurance, the newborn baby will be covered for 30 days after birth for medical requirements such as neonatal tests and screening.

Pre-existing and Chronic Conditions

You are required to declare any pre-existing or chronic medical conditions at the time of applying for insurance. The insurer will provide complete coverage for these following a six-month waiting period. Any emergency medical care related to said conditions will be covered like the other claims under the scheme during this waiting period.

Choosing an Insurer

There are a total of 14 insurers who participate in the DHA’s mandatory EBP health scheme. When selecting an insurer in Dubai, you can choose from one of the following local providers.

Dubai’s mandatory health insurance plans, or EBP in the UAE, offer basic coverage options. Be aware that the rules can vary slightly amongst different insurers, so it’s important to read them carefully before purchasing a policy.

Get Help from Pacific Prime Dubai

Make sure you secure the right insurance plan for your unique needs with the help of a reputable broker like Pacific Prime Dubai. With over two decades of experience in the industry, our team of expert advisors can support and guide you through your insurance journey.

Whether you’re looking for family insurance, medical insurance in Dubai, or other types of insurance, we compare plans and make it easy for you to choose the best one for your budget. Contact us today for a piece of impartial advice or an obligation-free quote!

Expats in Dubai can also benefit from staying up to date with our blog, which covers topics worth knowing about, such as the latest guide to health insurance and the UAE healthcare system.

Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime Dubai
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs