x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

NMC expects new UAE health insurance rules to boost earnings

The UAE's only London-listed hospital group expects the introduction of mandatory health insurance in Dubai and Sharjah to boost earnings after reporting a 20 per cent rise in first half profit.

NMC Health predicts changes to healthcare tariffs in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain will have a negligible impact on its revenues. Ravindranath K / The National
NMC Health predicts changes to healthcare tariffs in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain will have a negligible impact on its revenues. Ravindranath K / The National

The UAE’s only London-listed hospital group expects the introduction of mandatory health insurance in Dubai and Sharjah to boost earnings after first-half profit climbed more than 20 per cent.

Revenues at NMC Health rose by 8.4 per cent to US$238 million (Dh874.16m) as profit for the six months to the end of June topped $27m.But the group, which listed its shares on the London Stock Exchange in April, said the impact of new insurance schemes could be tempered by recent changes to healthcare tariffs in Abu Dhabi that cap the cost hospitals can charge for various procedures.

While that could shave off between 3 and 4 per cent of revenues from its speciality hospitals in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, the overall impact was likely to be “negligible”, said Binay Shetty, the chief operating officer.The first tariff changes will be rolled out in the capital on October 15 when Abu Dhabi’s Health Authority starts to implement the new prices hospitals can charge insured patients covered under basic health cards. Under the new system the cost of surgery will fall by as much as 14.9 per cent while laboratory services will decline in price by about 24.2 per cent. However, the cost of a visit from the doctor will rise by 24.6 per cent while day-care services will also rise, by 22 per cent.

Billions of dollars are being pumped into new healthcare projects across the Emirates as a fast-expanding population attracts investment from the biggest names in the industry including Cleveland Clinic, based in the United States, and the UK’s Moorfields Eye Hospital.NMC said hospital occupancy rates grew to 60.3 per cent in the first half of the year compared with 51.6 per cent a year earlier.

The group raised more than $168m from its London share sale, which is being spent on the construction of several new facilities throughout the country. It expects to open its Brightpoint maternity hospital and Mussafah day-patient medical facility in Abu Dhabi in December.

A new medical facility in Dubai Investment Park is slated to open in the first half of next year, while the group expects to invest as much as $200m in a development at Khalifa City to be tendered later this year.

Although only recently listed as a public company, NMC was formed in 1975 and has since grown to operate four hospitals, one day-care medical centre and eight pharmacies throughout the Emirates.It has also built up a distribution business that extends beyond medical products to cover consumer goods, food and educational products.

Yesterday, NMC announced the opening of a new warehouse in Dubai Investment Park for its distribution division.

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