Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Insurance for low-income expats

Insurance for low-income expats
By Dina El Shammaa, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: July 02, 2008, 00:08

Abu Dhabi: Expatriates earning a salary of Dh5,000 or less will now be eligible to enrol for the basic health insurance plan due to high inflation rates in the UAE, said an official from the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD).

The basic health insurance plan (BHIP) is subsidised by the government of Abu Dhabi for people with low monthly salaries. Up until June 1 more than 700,000 expatriates with a salary of Dh4,000 or less have been enrolled in the plan. Daman has more than a million health insurance members to date.

Under Law 23, the executive council of Abu Dhabi and HAAD agreed with the National Health Insurance Company (Daman) to keep the premium basic product stable at Dh600 for 2008. The employer bears all costs of the employee's basic plan.

"Individuals and their dependents with incomes not exceeding Dh4,000 with housing or Dh5,000 without housing are now eligible for the health insurance plan," said Gulam M. Teli, Director-Technical Division in Daman.

In the past, BHIP included individuals who earned less than Dh4,000. Those who earned an exact salary of Dh4,000 were not eligible.


According to Dr Philipp Vetter, Head of Strategy in HAAD, Daman is technically a third party administrator whose role is to provide the product and HAAD sets the products price, as well as supervise the healthcare services through an authorised network of healthcare providers.

"Our regulations are clear on this issue. First off, salary certificates must be submitted by the employer before enrolling in the basic plan. Anyone earning more than Dh5,000 will not be eligible for the plan."

He added that there will be no exceptions, unless the HAAD Chairman, Dr Ahmad Al Mazroui, decides that an individual can be exempt.

"This can be done on individual basis only by our chairman," said Vetter.

According to the law, the policy includes medication costs which cover a maximum of Dh1,500 for out-patient medication expenses and 30 per cent from the transaction. In case the transaction exceeds Dh500 the insured person is required to get previous permission from the insurance company.

They may liaise with an authorised insurance company to increase the upper limit by switching to an enhanced insurance policy, provided they pay the premium difference.

"This change will be beneficial for the segment of individuals who are earning between Dh4,000 to Dh5,000. They don't have to pay the premium difference anymore, which for many people was pretty high," said Teli.

Global accreditation

Five hospitals in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi have been inspected and internationally accredited by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) in partnership with the Joint Commission International (JCI), announced HAAD.

So far a total of 14 hospitals across the UAE have been accredited by JCI. The JCI is a division of Joint Commission Resources (JCR), the not-for-profit affiliate of the Joint Commission and has been involved in the healthcare sector across the UAE since May 2006, with the mission of improving safety and quality of care.

HAAD's partnership with JCI is an initiative to make sure licensure standards are applied in hospitals, ambulance care and continuum care.

"As the responsible authority for setting standards, inspection and licensing of health facilities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, we are working to ensure standards developed and implemented are best practiced, meeting the benchmark of international health care quality," said Zaid Al Siksek, Chief Executive Officer at HAAD.

Dr Philipp Vetter, Head of Strategy at HAAD, said it was important for healthcare facilities to be accredited for two main reasons. First, the accreditation process can help improve patient safety. Second, the accreditation is an indicator of quality, which helps patients chose between healthcare facilities.

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