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Companies not complying with Dubai’s mandatory health insurance face hefty fines

DUBAI // Businesses failing to comply with the Dubai Health Authority’s mandatory health-insurance plan face hefty fines, and new visas will not be granted for employees until they fall in line.

Phase two of the plan, which includes about 3,000 companies with between 100 and 999 employees, began on August 1, ensuring that another 600,000 people now have health insurance.

It has also emerged that the national health insurance company, Daman, will soon expand its services in the Northern Emirates, beyond its existing 450 providers in the area.

The improved cover will benefit employees in Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain.

A recently opened Daman branch in Sharjah has been performing well and has encouraged the call for more regional branches.

Daman’s chief executive for business operations, Dr Sven Rohte, said a broad portfolio of insurance programmes meant the insurer was well positioned to cope with the expansion.

Compulsory health-insurance schemes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have also meant more business for insurers, and hope among residents in other emirates that this will be replicated across the country.

Phase three of the insurance mandate in Dubai will cover dependants of employees, with a June 31, 2016 deadline for compliance, after which there will be 100 per cent coverage in the emirate.

In addition to dependants of expatriates, this phase will include employees of smaller companies and domestic workers.

Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, the director of health funding at the DHA, said businesses yet to comply with phase two of the scheme would be penalised.

“Strict enforcement is now taking place in partnership with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs,” he said.

“Certificates of health insurance now need to be submitted to them as part of the visa process.

“For companies that fall under phase one and two of the insurance law, no new visa can be submitted without insurance any more.”

Although not yet mandatory for companies to extend insurance to spouses, dependants and domestic workers, basic packages ranging from Dh625 to Dh800 have been arranged by the DHA.

The mandatory roll-out began in Dubai in February last year, when just a million of the city’s estimated population of 2.3 million had insurance.

Dr Al Yousuf said a small number of companies in Dubai were yet to sign up to the scheme and would be contacted and hit with a penalty notice.

“The penalties will be greater than the cost of the insurance, so it will make sense for them to comply with the regulations.

“They have already passed the deadline, so the longer they spend without insurance, the greater the penalties will become.

“If they are still not responding, we will refer them to the licensing entities to withhold their licence.”

Bre Hill, a regional human resources manager at MediaCom, which employs about 120 people in the Mena region, said: “Access to quality health care is a fundamental right and we have ensured this is something that is part of our core benefits for all staff. We support our employees by offering an inclusive policy for all, with direct billing at major health providers in the UAE.”

Exact details of the fines to be imposed have not yet been announced, but they will rise every month that businesses operate without insurance.

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(via The National)