Compulsory health insurance by year-end likely

ABU DHABI — Compulsory health insurance will be implemented on a national level by the end of the year, according to sources at the Ministry of Health (MoH).

By Asma Hamid (Our staff reporter)

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Published: Sat 24 May 2008, 9:16 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:12 PM

Abdulla Mohammed Al Ahmadi, Finance and Administration Manager at the MoH, told Khaleej Times that the MoH is currently studying a draft law to extend compulsory health insurance throughout the country.

He explained that joint committees of the MoH, Ministry of Finance, and local government authorities are currently drafting the law, which will require all employers and sponsors to provide a minimum package of health coverage to their employees or dependents.

“The law will stipulate a minimum of services that will cover primary health visits for all expatriates, in addition to necessary surgical operations,” he said.

Al Ahmadi added that currently it is low income expatriates who are not getting adequate access to healthcare.

“Some poor families even bring medications from their countries and attempt to heal themselves because of the increasing costs of medical expenses in the country. It is the responsibility of the MoH to provide health security in the entire country, and to meet the healthcare needs of this large underprivileged segment,” he stressed.

Health providers and insurance companies speaking on the last day of the Daman Regional Conference in the capital yesterday, have hailed the ministry’s plans to provide universal insurance coverage, maintaining that it will encourage investors to invest in the healthcare sector, open competition among medical service providers, and increase the quality of provided health services by ensuring private hospitals and clinics with a steady flow of income.

According to Axel Tettenborn, Chief Operating Officer of Daman, the implementation of compulsory insurance in Abu Dhabi, has been a success as currently 200,000 claims are processed monthly, with a capacity to enroll 30,000-40,000 people a day. In addition, Daman is ready to electronically test and pilot e-claims with top private providers and Health Services Company (Seha) in Abu Dhabi as per Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) requirements.

However, managers of private hospitals maintain that it will be difficult for them to cope with the increasing numbers of patients who will now be frequenting health centres in increasing numbers.

According to Dr B.R. Shetty, Managing Director and CEO of the New Medical Group (NMG), patients have to wait two to three hours in private hospitals before being admitted due to shortage of staff. With the extension of compulsory health insurance to other emirates, he maintains that this will place an extra burden on private hospitals who are often short of staff.

“The private healthcare providers are facing competition from the public sector or government hospitals for key healthcare professionals. In addition there is a loss of productivity of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff because of the time spent on paper work required for submitting insurance claims,” he said.

“We try to recruit new staff members, but only a small number of them meet the stringent requirements set by HAAD. Although we understand the need to ensure qualified staff, we feel that there should be a solution that will allow us to recruit the staff needed to meet the increasing numbers of patients,” he said.

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