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HAAD gets stricter on health insurance

Olivia Olarte / 27 September 2011

ABU DHABI — Over 42,000 individuals, groups and companies have incurred fines for non-renewal of health cards of 81,493 people since the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) started collecting fines last year as mandated by the Health Insurance Law No. 23 of 2005.

According to Dr Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Head of Customer Service and Corporate Communications at HAAD, the administrative process of collecting the fines was activated by the authority in May 2010. However, the offenders were given a two-month grace period following an official pardon by the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

In an endeavour to assist the residents in the settlement of their fines, the HAAD established the Appeal Committee for Insurance Fines to review each case.

Since May last year, the committee received 27,895 applications from individuals to cancel their fines, 6,677 group appeals, 6,319 from small companies and 1,262 from big companies.

“Activating the Health Insurance list of penalties is aimed at letting the sponsors/employers provide health insurance cover to all their workers/employees and not to collect violation fees. The HAAD has decreased the percentage of violations through this and sometimes it has made exemptions in order to allow everyone easier access to health insurance,” stated Dr Al Kaabi.

For individuals, an appeal fee of Dh100 is charged before all fines are cancelled while a Dh2,000 fee is charged from companies and their case will be sent to the Appeal Committee which may cancel or offer discount.

As per the health insurance law, a fine of Dh300 (per health card) will be imposed on an employer or sponsor for each month he or she has refrained from subscribing to the health insurance scheme or renewing the health insurance policy.

“We are not looking into collecting fines, what we are doing actually is we want everybody to be in compliance with the insurance law,” Dr Al Kaabi stressed.

He was speaking on Monday at the launch of the media awareness campaign on the Health Insurance Law No. 23 of 2005, aimed at educating residents about the importance of having healthcare coverage.

The campaign targets the UAE nationals who have workers under their sponsorship such as maids and drivers; the companies to be aware of the law concerning health insurance for all employees and for those who are living and working in the UAE. The law states that employers or sponsors are obligated to provide health insurance coverage to all employees/workers and their family members, including the employee’s spouse and three children below 18 years of age. The employer/sponsor shall be responsible to provide the basic healthcare coverage for his/her employees and their dependents.

The authorities concerned in the emirate shall not renew an employer’s trade licence without the employer submitting evidence of subscription to health insurance for his employees for the previous applicable period, the law added.

According to Marwan Al Nabulsi, Head of the Enrolment and Inspection - Health Financing Department at HAAD, anyone who has someone under their sponsorship can now secure an insurance card for him/her valid up to three years following an option introduced by the authority in January this year.

At present, only 97 per cent of the workers and residents of Abu Dhabi are insured, said Dr Al Kaabi. However, the HAAD hopes to attain 100 per cent compliance in future.

“People will know the value of having an insurance card when somebody gets sick and they go to a hospital and they will have to pay the bill. If they don’t have insurance, they have to come up with the money to pay the bill,” Al Nabulsi said. — olivia@khaleejtimes.com


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