Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Everyone in the UAE should have health insurance

News of plans for country-wide mandatory medical insurance is welcome: the success of modern medicine doesn't come cheap and everyone needs insurance.

The progress of modern medicine is among the great success stories of human history. But our longer, healthier lives do not come cheap: in all but the poorest countries, health care is eating up a bigger and bigger proportion of national wealth.

Indeed, diagnostic testing, hospital stays, treatment and even medication can be beyond the reach of many; a catastrophic illness could ruin the finances of almost any family. That's why medical insurance is now seen, in many countries, as essential.

In the UAE, Abu Dhabi has required employers to provide health cover for all expatriate workers and their dependents since 2005; there is a separate comprehensive insurance programme for Emiratis.

Now, as reported by Al Ittihad,the sister paper of The National, a federal law has been drafted to assure comparable coverage for everyone living across the country, as well as for Emiratis abroad. Employers will be required to provide insurance, and not charge workers for it.

That makes sense; plainly labourers cannot be expected to pay market rates for insurance. A natural corollary of national policies that welcome low-wage labour is that money must be found to provide those workers with a modicum of medical insurance.

That is one reason the idea of a UAE-wide insurance requirement has been around since at least 2004; we know that the federal cabinet considered a draft law on the subject in that year and again in 2007. The new version appears to put more flesh on the bones of the proposal.

There will of course be many details to be hammered out before this plan becomes reality. Dubai has for some time been preparing its own mandatory health-insurance system, and in March officials said a formal announcement would be forthcoming soon. How that planning will be integrated into the new federal authority remains to be seen.

Also, details of coverage and rates will obviously have to be worked out. The plan is being brought forward at a time when insurance companies have been under pressure as claims increase faster than funding from premiums and other sources; an expanded policy base should help financially but there will have to be safeguards against abuses.

Once all this is worked out, however, the new law will be a welcome step forward for the country. Health insurance is not a luxury, it is more nearly a basic need of modern life.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 A still from the 27-second black-and-white video that was taken using a satellite owned and operated by Skybox Imaging.

Burj Khalifa stars in HD video from space

A 27-second black and white video of a plane flying over Dubai's skyscrapers captures the imagination of some.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 JP Duminy played a cameo knock of 52 not out from 35 balls to tip the game in Delhi Daredevils' favour. Pawan Singh / The National

Kolkata Knight Riders lose way as Duminy sizzles for Delhi Daredevils

JP Duminy keeps his head as cameo at the death helps swing it in Delhi's favour in Dubai after captain Karthik plays the anchor role.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 The mother removes the noose with the help of her husband from around the neck of Balal.

In pictures: Mother forgives her son’s killer as he awaited his execution

An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National