Dh800 for consultation: UAE residents without medical insurance bear financial burden

In the face of such challenges, many residents employ various strategies to cope with healthcare expenses

by

SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Tue 19 Mar 2024, 7:12 PM

Last updated: Fri 22 Mar 2024, 1:14 PM

Cost of healthcare in the UAE can be considerably steep for most – especially without a medical insurance. From doctor consultations to emergency treatments, expenses can quickly accumulate, placing a strain on tight budgets.

Ahmed Ateeq, a businessman residing in Deira, relocated to Dubai a year ago to establish his business. He found himself in a challenging situation when he fell ill, without medical insurance. “My residency, visa, and everything else were in place, but I hadn't applied for medical insurance for a long time and I had to bear the brunt of healthcare expenses in December last year,” said Ahmed.


“The consultation, medical tests, and medications cost me around Dh600 when I fell ill for the first time,” Ahmed recollected. However, this was just the beginning of his financial strain.

After falling sick in December, Ahmed had postponed applying for medical insurance, assuming he wouldn't fall sick anytime soon. However, fate had other plans. “In February, I fell ill again, and I had to shell out Dh800 for my medical expenses,” said Ahmed. In just three months, he ended up spending more than Dh1,400 without insurance, highlighting the financial burden of healthcare expenses in the absence of coverage.


Ahmed finally managed to get insurance and “surprisingly, got it for just Dh900 from a broker”.

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Not applying for health insurance leaves many UAE residents grappling with the burden of healthcare expenses out of pocket. Abu Aiza, a resident of Sharjah who recently relocated his family to the UAE, expressed his concerns. "I have not yet done my daughter's insurance. It's scary not having insurance. Even a routine doctor's visit can set me back financially," Abu Aiza stated.

He recounted a recent incident when his daughter fell ill, emphasising the financial strain it brought. "I had to pay for her consultation, tests, and medicines separately. They cost me Dh350, Dh200, and Dh90, respectively. In total, I spent around Dh650 for just one visit," Abu Aiza added, highlighting the significant expenses incurred without insurance coverage.

Alternative strategies

In the face of such challenges, many residents employ various strategies to cope with healthcare expenses. Some turn to community clinics that offer subsidised or free medical services. “I rely on community clinics who treat patients at considerably low rates. There is a doctor in Ajman, who charges just Dh20 for treatment. The medicine he prescribes are also considerably lower,” said Shahbaz Khan, a resident of Sharjah.

Yet others turn to alternative forms of medicine such as homeopathy and ayurveda for treatment. These traditional healing methods offer an alternative approach to conventional medicine and are often perceived as more affordable options.

Rajesh Vettakamul, a 42-year-old resident of Sharjah, has been taught natural healing from his ancestors and still uses it when he falls sick. “I keep myself healthy with Ayurvedic and Yogic practices. I don’t fall ill often. However, in the last 5 years in the UAE, I have fallen sick just two times and I make herbal teas and address the symptoms promoting overall well-being, aligning with my belief in natural healing," said Vettakamul.

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