What You Need to Know About Healthcare in the UAE
The advent of western brand name hospitals, such as Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Mayo Clinic, have put the UAE on the map as offering some of the finest care in the world. Here’s everything you need to know about getting the care you need in the UAE.
One of the first matters people consider when faced with the prospect of relocating to or visiting a foreign country is healthcare. If the UAE is a prospect for you, consider yourself lucky as the Gulf nation is renowned for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
The UAE was ranked as one of the top ten most efficient healthcare systems in the world. In 2018, it was reported that there were approximately 181 doctors per 100,000 residents. Apparently, the word about healthcare in the region has spread leading to unprecedented growth in medical tourism, and the UAE’s top-notch medical facilities are increasingly sought after.
But, like anywhere, all healthcare is not created equally so it’s important to know all the facts and to understand that, while expats benefit from the high medical standards in the Gulf country, healthcare for expats and visitors is not subsidized by the Government and can be expensive. Here is everything you need to know about healthcare in the UAE.
How It Works
The UAE has a government-funded healthcare system and a rapidly developing private sector that delivers one of the world’s highest standards of care. Healthcare is regulated at both the Federal and Emirate level, so the system varies from emirate to emirate.
Medical facilities are modern, and many are accessible to UAE nationals and expat residents alike. Both public and private hospitals offer excellent healthcare. English is spoken in private care facilities, and the majority of the healthcare providers are foreign or foreign-trained.
Medical services in the UAE can be quite expensive, but the old saying “you get what you pay for” comes into play here. For UAE nationals, healthcare is subsidized by the Government, while expats usually can access the hospitals and clinics covered by their health insurance. If they prefer to visit providers out of network, services can be reimbursable by their insurance company or must be paid out of pocket, which can be very costly. In the UAE, finding a doctor is largely done through online portals with a wealth of information at your fingertips about both the physician and the clinic available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Who Regulates It?
Healthcare is administered by four different regulatory bodies throughout the United Arab Emirates:
- The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP)
- Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD)
- The Dubai Health Authority (DHA)
- Insurance Authority (IA)
How Does Healthcare Vary?
Like anywhere, healthcare can vary depending upon where you work, but, unlike other places, it can vary even more depending upon where you are. Though it varies by the emirate, it’s generally consistently high quality no matter where you go, but prices do vary. Here’s how it varies and how you can make yours work better for you.
For UAE Nationals
Public health and medical treatments in the UAE are essentially low cost or free for all Emirati nationals.
For Expat Residents
For expat residents, the cost of medical services in the UAE is expensive, but in return, you get high-quality care. Expats with insurance may pay a percentage of their treatment when they visit in-network physicians, clinics, and hospitals depending on their insurance plan.
For Women & Children
The UAE might be one of the most family-friendly nations in the world, and its healthcare reflects that. There is a level of care to suit all tastes and pocketbooks. If you’d like to give birth in style, there are some of the most luxurious, not to mention, medically advanced facilities in the world here. From luxury suites to specialty care, you can find your birthing preference in the UAE.
Coincidentally, there are numerous healthcare centers that for females only, fully staffed by women. Therefore, it’s never a problem to find a female practitioner if that’s your preference. There are many different maternity, newborn, and postnatal care benefits and plans to choose from so shop around until you find one that’s just right for you.
So, if you’re an expat mother-to-be in the UAE, sleep well at night knowing that your pre-and post-natal care will be top-notch and you will be spoiled for choice. It’s worth noting that If you are not married, giving birth in the UAE isn’t an option.
In Abu Dhabi, companies are required to provide health insurance to their employees and dependents, which include one spouse and up to three children under the age of 18. If you have more than three children, the coverage for the fourth child is your financial responsibility. If you are sponsoring your domestic help then you will need to provide for his/her health insurance.
In Dubai, the government has made it mandatory for companies to extend healthcare coverage for employees. This may extend to their families depending on the Employer’s HR policies and in absence of that, it is the responsibility of the employee to insure their dependents.
In the northern Emirates of Ajman, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah, Fujairah, and Umm Al-Quwain, employers are not required by law to provide health insurance to their employees.
A Top Medical Destination
With tens of millions of tourists discovering the emirates as a fantastic destination, it’s not surprising that medical tourists would soon find out about it, too. The rise in tourism to the UAE led to a parallel rise in healthcare facilities, with the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi seeing both the most tourists and subsequently offering the highest quality with the greatest number of facilities. When foreign tourists caught onto the quality of healthcare in the UAE, the popular travel trend known as “medical Tourism” arrived on the UAE’s shores.
What is EBP?
Here’s some useful information if you or your dependents are not covered by your employer in the Emirate of Dubai. You can opt for either a private healthcare plan or the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP). The coverage provided by EBP is the equivalent of UAE public healthcare. It is available only to those making AED 4,000 per month or less. If you have domestic workers as employees, you will need to provide healthcare for them as well. The cost of EBP is anywhere between 550 and 650 AED per year.
In an effort to provide better and consolidated healthcare services, the UAE has opened three cities dedicated to healthcare. These “cities” are less city and more healthcare “campuses” comprised of clinics with various specialties. The three healthcare cities in the UAE are known as:
- Sheikh Khalifa Medical City
- Dubai Healthcare City
- Sharjah Healthcare City
- Shiekh Shakhboot Medical City
What to do in an emergency in the UAE
An ambulance can be called at 998 from anywhere within the UAE. Most hospitals are well equipped to deal with just about any emergency situation. After initial treatment, the patient may be transferred to a more specialized clinic or unit. Costs can vary. Though you can’t plan for an emergency, it’s wise to educate yourself about hospitals and clinics that are in your network so you are not surprised by any costs that may arise from your treatment.
No matter where you live, one of the best ways to keep your costs down is to stay healthy. But it’s nice to know that, if something happens, you’re living or visiting a nation with top-notch healthcare, such as the kind you will find everywhere in the UAE.