Dubai Mandates Employer-Paid Health Insurance for Foreign Workers

3 Dec 13

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

IMPACT – Medium

What are the changes? Dubai has passed a new law mandating health coverage for all, including foreign workers.

What does the change mean? Employers must pay for their workers’ health insurance, and coverage is a prerequisite to obtaining a residence visa.

  • Implementation timeframe: Universal health care coverage will begin next year and expand in phases ending in 2016.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals in the Dubai mainland, including free zones.
  • Impact on processing times: Proof of medical insurance will be another step in the processing of securing a visa.
  • Business impact: Businesseswillhave to factor the cost of health coverage intoassignments in Dubai.

Background: The Health Insurance Law was approved by the ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

The law aims to cover all citizens, foreign residents and visitors, and will be implemented in phases beginning next year.

Under the law, employers must cover foreign employees under at least an “essential benefits package” without deducting those costs from employees’ salaries. Employers must maintain coverage throughout a worker’s employment, and if the insurance lapses, the employer must bear the full cost of a worker’s health services, including emergency care.

The essential benefits package is expected to cost about 600 dirham (163 U.S. dollars) per individual per year. The Dubai Health Authority plans to issue special permits to health insurers seeking to sell health insurance plans.

Employees who sponsor family members will be responsible for paying for their relatives’ health insurance.

BAL Analysis: The law will impose a new cost and visa prerequisite on employers with workers in Dubai. Employees on assignment in Dubai should also be aware of the mandatory requirement to cover domestic workers and dependent family members.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Dubai. For additional information, please contact GlobalVisaGroup@balglobal.com.

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