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The complete guide to Dubai’s public and private healthcare sectors

Dubai’s healthcare system is generally of excellent standards, and boasts a number of modern and easily-accessible facilities for locals and expats. So much so that it’s also a top destination for medical tourism – a position that continues despite COVID-19-related challenges. Whether you are planning to move to or have recently arrived in the emirate, or would simply like to dig deeper into the topic, this Pacific Prime Dubai article is a good place to start.

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Healthcare in Dubai for expats

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is the government authority that runs health services in Dubai, overseeing both the public and private healthcare sectors. Both sectors provide high-quality care and are accessible to expats, though wait times in the public healthcare sector are typically longer. What’s more, as a large proportion of the medical staff in Dubai consists of expats, English is commonly spoken and you’re unlikely to face a language barrier.

It’s vital to note that Dubai’s healthcare system doesn’t have general practitioner (GP) surgeries. If you need to see a doctor for non-urgent medical care, you’ll typically see a family doctor in a public or private hospital or medical centers. They can offer you medical advice and refer you to treatments and/or specialists. That being said, you don’t need a referral to see a specialist, and you can make an appointment with one yourself.

Read more: Discover the differences between the public vs. private healthcare sector in the UAE!

Public healthcare sector

One of the first questions expats ask is: “Is healthcare free in Dubai?”. The answer isn’t clear-cut. While the public healthcare sector offers free or low-cost services for UAE residents (including expats), you’ll need to pay for a UAE health card to access healthcare services. The fees are AED 320 for adults and AED 120 for children (under the age of 10). You’ll need to apply online or at a medical center, and will also need to provide your ID documents.

Tip: It’s highly recommended that you apply for a health card – even if you’ve got health insurance (which is mandatory). This is because it will enable you to access public healthcare in the event that your policy doesn’t cover you for certain treatments.

Private healthcare sector

Even though expats in Dubai can access the public healthcare sector, many opt for the private healthcare sector instead as it affords far greater amenities and comfort, not to mention shorter wait times. Though, the downside is that it costs more. You can choose from one of the many private healthcare facilities in Dubai, including at the Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) – a modern complex that offers advanced and cutting-edge healthcare services.

Tip: If you’d like to access the best private healthcare in Dubai, without needing to pay out of pocket, you can secure a good, comprehensive health insurance plan. You could even opt for an international plan that will enable you to access healthcare services the world over!

Emergency service in Dubai

Both the public and private healthcare sectors in Dubai provide emergency treatment. In the public healthcare sector, free emergency treatment is provided. If you haven’t applied for a health card yet, you’ll be issued a provisional card when you arrive at the hospital’s emergency department. Whereas in the private healthcare sector, the cost of emergency treatment can be quite high.

Tip: If you need to call an ambulance in Dubai, you should dial 999 (ambulance and police) or 998 (ambulance only). Make sure you’re aware of ambulance charges and the emergency service departments at hospitals.

Maternity care in Dubai

While maternity wings can be found in both the public and private healthcare sectors, there are also facilities that specialize in maternity care and pediatrics. You can easily find facilities in your area through a quick online search and book appointments through the website or by phone. In keeping with the UAE’s adherence to Islam, you can almost be certain that your OB-GYN will be female.

Tip: It’s important to note that you must be legally married to the father of your child if you want to give birth in Dubai – something that’s come as a shock to many expat parents. Are you planning to get pregnant currently? Check out the expat’s guide to pregnancy in the UAE.

Dental care in Dubai

Dubai is also home to many top dental clinics. Nevertheless, the cost of dental care in the emirate can be quite expensive. In fact, according to one survey in Dubai, 62% of respondents said affordability was a huge deterrent factor when it comes to accessing dental care when they need it. As such, many expats choose to travel back home or to another country to benefit from cheaper treatment, or secure dental insurance to cover the cost of dental care in Dubai.

Medicines and pharmacies in Dubai

There are also plenty of pharmacies in Dubai, many of which are open 24 hours a day. You’ll have no difficulty buying both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, though the cost of medicines is generally on the higher side. As the pharmaceutical laws in Dubai are rather strict, as is the case in the rest of the UAE, it’s important that you make sure you aren’t bringing illegal medication into the country.

Contact Pacific Prime Dubai to secure mandatory health insurance today!

All residents (including expats and their dependents) in Dubai are also required to have mandatory health insurance. Unlike their local counterparts, who are covered under a government-funded scheme, expats will need private health insurance. Employers must provide at least basic coverage to employees, while some choose to extend the coverage to employees’ dependents.

If you need to secure health insurance for your dependents, or if you want more comprehensive benefits than what your employer provides, Pacific Prime Dubai can help! As a global insurance brokerage, we help you determine your insurance needs, compare health plans, and select the most appropriate one for you. Whether you’re an individual or family, we can provide international health insurance with a number of extra benefits such as maternity coverage.

Contact us today to get started!

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