x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Circumcision cover to benefit thousands

New coverage offered by country's largest health insurer is expected to benefit about 2,500 newborns this year.

ABU DHABI // Circumcision will now be covered under the health insurance policies of the country's largest insurer, Daman.

The company is the first in the UAE to offer this, according to the state news agency, Wam.

Neonatal circumcision, which can reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, costs an average of Dh2,000 in private hospitals - almost double the cost of similar facilities in the US.

There have been calls for circumcision to be covered. In an interview with The National six weeks ago, the Grand Mufti and head of the Fatwa Department at the Dubai Fatwa Centre, Dr Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, said charging for the procedure, a tradition among Muslim males, was akin to taking advantage of people.

Daman said they had numerous pleas for the surgery to be covered.

"We started to look into it because we had members and corporate clients requesting it. It was quite a popular demand," said Daman's chief commercial officer, Dr Sven Rohte. "We studied a couple of [potential] benefits that are excluded, so we regularly screen things we might include."

The company looked at the financial costs before making a decision. Given the number of males born last year whose families are covered by Daman, the move will benefit about 2,500 newborns this year.

The surgery will be covered regardless of the patient's age, although the target group is newborns.

Dr Rohte said there was no evidence that improper circumcisions were being carried out by parents trying to cut costs. "It is not the case. We have no evidence that [operations] have been done in an unprofessional environment," he said.

Claims can be made online or at any of Daman's branches.