The year 2020 is proving to be a year of extremities – on one hand, people all around the world are keeping a distance from one another because of the unfortunate outbreak of the global pandemic caused by the virus COVID – 19, on the other hand, humankind is coming together in empathy and struggle like never before due to this time of crisis. Amid the worldwide combat against coronavirus, the UAE Government took a massive step to give medical assistance and treatment to every supposed or confirmed coronavirus patient free-of-cost, with or without health insurance.
Circular no. (3) of 2020 on Precautionary and Preventive Measures to Maintain Public Safety, Health and Prevent Spread of Coronavirus (COVID – 19 Circular), directed all the insurance companies and insurance-related professions operating in the UAE to provide guidance from the Insurance Authority on Precautionary and Preventive measures to conserve public health in the workplace and to ensure continuity of business-related endeavors during the outbreak of COVID-19. Based on the directives issued by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP), all the cases related to Coronavirus will be covered by Group medical insurance in Dubai. Insurers, however, are making their customers aware of the exceptions that apply, to clarify any doubts that they might have. There are a few exceptions that should be focused on to understand the settlement criteria, as the insurance providers are handling the claims.
As per the circular dispersed on 30 January 2020, all the health care facilities licensed under Dubai Health Authority are to follow the directives from the Ministry of Health and Prevention. The circular mentions that all supposed and confirmed Coronavirus cases must be taken into consideration as ‘emergency cases’. If the patient is insured, the insurance company is to acknowledge and fully cover the claim. Even if the patient is not insured but has positive symptoms, they as well are to be considered as ‘emergency cases’ and treated by licensed physicians free of any cost.
DHA instructed all the employers to not let the group insurance of the employees to lapse so that the health-care units can function smoothly under these difficult circumstances:
“We fully recognize the challenges faced by organizations, sectors, and communities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we must comply with the basic needs of employees, which is mandatory health insurance. Therefore, if an employee’s policy needs to be issued or renewed, the employer or sponsor should fulfill his obligation,” Saleh Al Hashemi, CEO of Dubai Health Insurance Corporation (DHIC) said. He also added that it is important that all stakeholders comply with the mandatory health insurance scheme in line with Health Insurance Law No. 11 of 2013 and emphasizes on companies meet the minimum health insurance criteria to not overburden the healthcare system, taking their share of responsibility in these unprecedented times.
Despite all the offices being closed, it is extremely important for both the employers and the employees to continue to renew their policies. Whereas, if not insured, there will be no cost to incur during the treatment of suspected or confirmed coronavirus positive cases. But to get medical treatment all across the public and private sectors, it is important to meet the minimum criteria of health insurance.
Although the basic guidelines of the insurance policies stick to the DHA directed instructions, it is extremely important to understand that every alternate company may have slightly different rules with a few exceptions which, if not understood properly, may lead to unnecessary confusion and disagreement. As long as the medical examinations are prescribed by a licensed physician, the insurance will be subject to the approval of the physician. But, if anyone wants to independently conduct tests without any symptoms and professional medical assistance from physicians, the insurance will not cover the treatment.
The Government of UAE is instructing and providing guidelines to people of every strata of society. It is especially drawing out instructions for employers and employees all over the country to create a balance in the economy and healthcare units in these extremely difficult times. Although, the cost of the treatment of COVID- 19 will be covered even if an individual does not have insurance:
- Citizens are strongly advised not to travel to or from any country with high-risk of contagion. The top eight countries to avoid as per the UAE Ministry of Health and Preservation are namely China, Japan, Italy, Germany, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, and France.
- The insurance claim will stand invalid if the treatment is not referred by a licensed medical practitioner. No self-diagnosed tests will be covered.
With the increasing mortality rate due to COVID – 19 in UAE, the insurance companies are enduring a massive hit on the profitability. The pandemic brought with it an unforeseen increase in the induced claims, including deaths, permanent damage, and other healthcare expenditures, which has further hit the total incur of revenue in the entire industry. This is an unpredicted and difficult time to endure and will take years to recover even after the pandemic is over. One can only be hopeful and awake to the possibilities of the future.