Dubai has kept a very watchful eye on levels of migration in to the country over recent years and in an effort to protect and maintain its world-class healthcare facilities, has adjusted its health insurance legislation accordingly.

As of this Spring (30 April 2016), the UAE Federal Insurance Authority bought in new changes which should reduce money laundering and terrorism financing. Whilst this may seem fairly far removed from health insurance itself for the majority, authorities are single minded in their determination to rule out the above activity and by linking these issues to healthcare, they are also better able monitor the burden on health facilities too.

How does this work in reality?

Initially health insurance was closely regulated by the DHA (Dubai Health Authority) with all insurers being required to use a fronting and compliant partner. The next step was for authorities to ask for mandatory documentation such as Emirates ID cards, Visa copies, passport copies, JPEG photos etc. Following that, the regulations then evolved to stipulate mandatory levels of coverage as a minimum, and that all employers in Dubai need to provide (and pay for) coverage for employees that satisfies these minimum benefit levels.  The new legislation this year, requires an employee’s salary to be disclosed and whether they are linked to politically exposed people amongst other details. This documentation is not only needed to obtain health insurance in the first place but also required on an annual basis before a policy can be renewed.

Fines

Employers who do not follow the new guidelines risk a fine of between £95 (AED 500) per month per employee for failing to provide compliant cover up to £1,900 (AED 10,000) per employee if the employer does not provide health insurance to its employees or for recovering the premium cost from its employees.

Whilst the list of requirements may seem arduous and endless, that is exactly the point: Dubai’s population comprises around 70 per cent of foreigners. Whilst it’s easy to picture Western emigrants working in professional industries in the region, Dubai is also protecting its hospitals and clinics from the high proportion of blue collar workers, particularly in the construction industry.

The reality is that doing business here is just not as easy as it was. If you already have connections in the area then you’re probably unlikely to step away but the red tape could potentially deter some businesses from sending employees here. That said, employers and employees who work together and understand the necessity to be compile a file of easily accessible documentation will find that they can navigate the new regulations successfully.

Planning ahead will be essential though – employers can’t simply decide to send an employee to Dubai today and expect to have adequate protection in place by tomorrow. Unfortunately this is a massively complex subject and one where employers would do well to seek advice – both for the financial security of the organisation itself and the peace of mind of employees.

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