UAE residents to pay more for mental health insurance with premiums rising 10-15%

Base coverage starts at Dh950 while enhanced plans that offer a broader range of coverage start from Dh3,000


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 1:04 PM

Last updated: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 10:50 PM

Mental health insurance premiums in the UAE have been increasing by 10 to 15 per cent every year, and this trend is expected to continue in 2024 as well. According to Insurance industry executives, the demand for mental health insurance continues to grow among UAE residents due to a rise in awareness in the post-pandemic period.

Anas Mistareehi, founder and CEO of eSanad, said mental health insurance has been increasing post-pandemic from 10 to 15 per cent every year due to medical inflation.

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“This increase is expected to continue in 2024, so policyholders will have to shell out more for their health insurance premiums as nearly half of the insurance companies in the market have already increased and the remaining will follow as a kind of correction due to the high utilisation,” he said.

Anas Mistareehi
Anas Mistareehi

Moin Ur Rehman, executive director of Unitrust Insurance, said health insurance premiums, including those covering mental health, have generally seen an increase in 2023 because medical treatments have become costlier. Hence, this gets cascaded down to the average person via insurance premiums.

"Mental health treatments can be a medium to long-term commitment, potentially leading to significant medical expenses, which may also play a part. The outlook for 2024 suggests a continuation of this trend; we don't see medical insurance premiums falling anytime soon,” said Rehman.

According to the World Health Organisation, mental health treatment in the UAE has risen by six times since 2020.

Demand growing

Moin Ur Rehman
Moin Ur Rehman

Moin Ur Rehman said demand for mental health insurance increased due to heightened awareness of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders, as well as societal shifts and an increase of residents from countries where mental health awareness is a norm.

Mistareehi added that demand for mental health insurance has increased in the UAE due to the increase in mental health treatments, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic worsened many people’s mental health as they dealt with financial and relationship concerns.

According to eSanad, mental health coverage begins with a base coverage starting at Dh950 while enhanced plans offering a broader coverage range start from Dh3,000.

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) sets certain limits and standards for mental health coverage, which insurers typically adhere to.

Do all insurance plans cover mental health?

Mistareehi told Khaleej Times that not every health insurance plan covers mental health, however, medical insurance in the UAE covers several psychological disorders including depression.

“Some insurance providers also offer specialized mental health insurance plans as well. Mental illnesses are regarded on par with physical illnesses by medical insurance companies in the UAE nowadays. Hence, the coverage scope is also similar. From hospitalization to therapy sessions, diagnostic tests, pharmaceuticals, and other services. Some medical insurance in the UAE may also include consultations, rehabilitation, counselling, etc.,” he added.

Echoing Mistareehi comments, Rehman added that most insurance policies do not cover mental health, and it has to be specifically requested. “Not all insurance companies in the UAE currently cover mental health. However, there is a trend towards the inclusion of mental health services in more comprehensive insurance plans.”

Seeking maximum, wider coverage

eSanad chief executive added that individuals and companies often look for plans that cover a wide range of mental health conditions, from common issues like anxiety and depression to more complex disorders.

"Individuals are looking for insurance plans that cover not just therapy or counselling but a wide spectrum of mental health services, including preventive care, alternative therapies, and digital mental health solutions," he added.

Rehman saw individuals and companies generally seeking plans with higher coverage limits.

"They prioritise coverage for psychotherapy or therapy sessions, consultations, hospitalisation, and pharmaceutical treatments. There's also an increasing demand for coverage that includes holistic and alternative treatment options. It is more common for individuals to seek this coverage. In contrast, for companies, it is usually the larger or multinational companies which are likely to include this coverage for their employees," he added.

Rehman revealed that people now seek maximum coverage for mental health services because mental treatments can be costly and long-term, requiring extensive support.

"More people are considering options, however, most people are still concerned with the high premium costs associated with it, and the majority may still opt for cover without it."


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