How UAE residents choose best healthcare provider
Second part of a series that explains the mandatory healthcare scheme in the UAE
Word of mouth and previous experience are the most significant factors in how individuals choose healthcare providers in UAE.
Medical insurance is now compulsory for all Dubai residents but a research commissioned by International SOS shows that half of UAE residents are unaware of their own healthcare insurance costs.
The research conducted in April by YouGov shows that while 84 per cent of people living in UAE underestimate the country's high level of medical inflation, 51 per cent do not know the cost of their health insurance.
The high level of medical inflation is a serious concern to employers as a growing proportion of the total cost of employment.
Medical inflation in the UAE was 9.5 per cent in 2015 according to Pacific Prime, a global health insurance broker. This means that a company's health insurance policies which cost Dh1 million in 2010 rose to cost Dh1.6 million by the end of last year, according to industry experts.
Many employers in the UAE pay for health insurance directly. Individuals can choose which doctors, clinics and hospitals to use in most plans, sometimes from a list set by their insurer.
But when they have a concern, only a few have access to independent medical advice on which healthcare provider to use or even whether a doctor visit is required at all, said an expert from International SOS.
"Just because a hospital looks fantastic and has shiny equipment does not mean that health outcomes for patients will be the best," said Dr Fraser Lamond, Regional Medical Director at International SOS.
"However, it does often mean that treatment costs can be sky high. There is a real need to understand the quality and reliability of the healthcare itself first when selecting healthcare providers. That will lead to better outcomes for patients and lower costs for society."
So, how can individuals choose the best healthcare?
Dr Lamond said: "While hunting for quality healthcare, individuals should look for independent, medically-qualified information about which doctors and hospitals can provide the best possible treatment for whatever condition they have."
"Those who have the option should consult their assistance company, which would refer them to appropriately assessed and accredited networks."
He also said that this is important in a place like Dubai where many people are quite recent arrivals and do not have long-standing relationships with a general practitioner or hospital.
"Last year, we received a total of 4.6 million calls from clients around the globe seeking advice."
"Medical costs in the UAE have increased rapidly in recent years at a rate that is unsustainable for the long-term," said Karim Idilby, general manager at Bupa Global Middle East.
"There is a need for cost containment and for providing appropriate care with a focus on the right care at the right time at the right cost," he said.
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