April is Autism Awareness Month across the globe. Pacific Prime discusses autism statistics and shines light on the resources available in Dubai...
26 April 2018| Last updated on 16 May 2019
There have been many great developments around the world in recent decades. The global standard of living and quality of life have improved, and technological advancement has allowed more people than ever to live in comfort. There is less poverty than ever before, too.
This is not to say, though, that there haven’t been troubling trends. We can always look at the state of pollution and climate change in the world to see that. There have also been some medical conditions that have come to have greatly increased in prevalence recently. In Dubai, as well as other developed places in the world, this includes increased incidence of cancer and heart disease in people who are older. Even more worrying is the rise of a condition that is affecting children and their families worldwide: Autism.
Dubai is no stranger to having residents with Autism, and there are resources available for people with Autism in the Emirate. But, what are they? Will health insurance cover costs associated with them? Here, Pacific Prime Dubai dives into the topic.
Dubai Autism Statistics
For those that don’t know, Autism refers to an array of conditions, properly known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), that are characterised by issues with communication, speech, social skills, and repetitive behaviours, as well as by the presence of unique differences and strengths. It is present in people from childhood, and lasts for a person’s entire lifetime. There is no cure for autism, but the condition can be managed to help a person lead a more normal life, and minimise any of its potentially degenerative properties.
Autism is actually surprisingly commonplace in 2018. Recent figures put the prevalence of the condition in the United States at 1 in every 68 children born. In Dubai this number is not quite so pronounced, but the rate is still quite high; a 2017 report puts the rate of incidence at 1 in every 146 births!
It has also been noted that the prevalence of Autism has grown rapidly in Dubai in recent years, which has been the case in many places around the world during the same timeframe. However, it should be noted that some of this effect may be due to increased awareness of the condition, and people becoming diagnosed at earlier ages. As well, the social stigma around autism has decreased to the point that more parents are willing to seek a diagnosis, where they would not have in previous years.
Conditions Linked to Autism
So, what types of health conditions tend to go hand-in-hand with Autism? Autism Speaks states that there are number of ailments that are more likely to occur in children with Autism than children without it. These include:
- Eczema and skin allergies
- Food allergies
- Chronic severe headaches
- Chronic diarrhea and colitis
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Sleep disorders
Another point here is that sufferers of Autism can develop serious mental health issues, like anxiety, ADHD, and depression, for which they will require treatment, and this will not be covered by Essential Benefits Plans in Dubai. Of course, there are better health insurance plans on the market that do include benefits for mental health issues, so those that wish to do so can get this type of coverage, though it will cost more than a similar plan with mental health benefits.
Autism and Insurance in Dubai
A great place to start when examining any topic related to insurance here is the Government of Dubai’s Health Insurance Law. This is the law that rolled out for several years after it came into force, and eventually mandated that every person within Dubai’s borders possess health insurance.
Employers in Dubai must provide insurance for their employees; otherwise, people must provide insurance for themselves and their families. The law also spells out exactly what needs to be covered by any insurance policy sold in Dubai in order to meet government compliance regulations.
Looking into the text of the law, the first thing those interested in covering treatments related to Autism will want to note is that insurance providers in the Emirate cannot deny coverage to any individual with a pre-existing condition after a waiting period of six months. Also included within the legislation is a provision for the coverage of all examinations, diagnostics, and treatment services, including laboratory tests. This would lend itself to covering the testing necessary to get an autism diagnosis.
Looking a bit further into the document, we see the items that are excluded from coverage under an Essential Benefits Plan, which is the lowest level of coverage allowable by law. Included within the exclusions are a number of items that could be beneficial to people with autism, such as:
- Private nursing care and home nursing
- Custodial care
- Mental health diseases (Both in-patient and out-patient)
- Birth defects and congenital diseases
- Educational services and services for handicaps
Essential Benefits Plans do provide coverage for newborns from 30 days after their birth, while autism is typically not diagnosed until a person is at least two years old. This means that baby can be covered for any medical issues linked to autism for most of the first two years of its life. However, after autism is diagnosed, an insurer may deny claims for such issues on the grounds that autism is considered a birth defect or congenital.
Those concerned should be sure to get specifics on autism coverage from their insurance provider, as benefits, terms, and conditions can vary from insurer to insurer.
Autism Resources in Dubai
Even though medical insurance coverage for medical conditions linked with autism can be hard to come back, there are still other resources in Dubai that people with autism and their families can avail themselves of to help manage their condition. In fact, there’s an entire autism community in the Emirate that provides support for anyone affected by autism. These facilities and programs can be life changing for people with autism and their families, as they teach valuable life skills that will be used for many years into the future; helping people to enter mainstream schooling and develop healthy personal relationships.
The types of help that can be found for autism sufferers in Dubai include:
- Training centers
- Nutritionists and diet coaches
- Individual education programs tailored to individual needs
A good site for finding autism resources in Dubai is AutismInDubai.com, which has recommendations for schools, doctors, and learning centers in Dubai, as well as relevant literature and useful links for things like support groups and even autism-friendly sports leagues.
These resources can be pricey to use though. One article puts the average annual cost of charges for membership and treatment at the Dubai Autism Centre at AED 140,000. While this can be a hard sum for many to afford, the fact remains that the earlier a child receives treatment for autism, the better outcomes tend to be.
Get More Information
Parents of children with Autism in Dubai need to consider covering the costs of standard medical care the same as any other parents. In fact, they would likely be more inclined to seek out health insurance for their child with Autism since they will likely have to pay out of pocket for types of care that will not be covered by health insurance.
If you have a child with Autism in your life that needs quality health insurance coverage, or you would like a newborn or child health insurance plan that can help you address costs associated with autism, please feel free to reach out to Pacific Prime Dubai today.
They can answer any questions you may have about insurance in Dubai, provide you with a comparison of plans available from top Dubai insurance providers, and give you a price quote; all at zero cost to you.