Experts at Pacific Prime Dubai weight in on different kinds of private and public options available to expatriates in UAE
23 December 2018| Last updated on 24 December 2018
Dubai is undoubtedly a unique city-state in the world
One prime example being that it is the first place in the world to mandate all citizens and tourists to possess compliant private health insurance in order to enter and stay in the country.
In recent years, the UAE government has been striving to develop the country into a medical tourism hub with big investments in both public and private healthcare systems. While it means that you can receive very high-quality medical treatment at either kind of facility while in the country, the two healthcare sectors do have their pros and cons.
Here, our insurance partner Pacific Prime Dubai will answer some of the most commonly asked questions on the subject, which includes “Should I choose public or private health insurance?” and “What’s the main difference between public and private healthcare in Dubai?”.
Public and private healthcare in Dubai
Public hospitals are run by the Department of Health and Medical Services of the local government and overseen by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). The hospitals that are part of the public system are essentially separated into different levels of care based on their location, as well as the size of the population they are expected to serve.
These medical facilities cater mainly to local populations, which is why Arabic is the main language spoken there. While English is often spoken in many larger government facilities, it may be tougher to find an English speaking doctor than in the private system.
As with public hospitals in the other parts of the world, public hospitals in Dubai also have long queues. This is because local populations use their public hospitals freely, which in turn leads to long waiting time.
As you can expect, private hospitals are a more popular option among expats and wealthier citizens. Part of the reason is that a large population of expatriates simply is not entitled to the publicly subsidized healthcare. And with the flourishing medical tourism industry, it comes as no surprise that there are currently more private medical facilities than public ones.
While these private hospitals generally charge exorbitant costs, a recent change in DHA regulation has reduced prices for some treatments to be only a fraction more than public hospitals costs.
On top of that, they do have better services and higher healthcare quality to patients such as offering international patient desks and other resources to improve the experience for expats and international visitors. They also maintain connections with global insurers to streamline the payment and billing process for patients with an individual or group health insurance policy.
Finally, private hospitals provide more comfortable surroundings, a greater choice for physicians and appointment times, the ability to select the doctor you want to see, and the ability to select (and pay more for) luxurious inpatient accommodation and special meals. Oftentimes, the cost would not be much higher than what you would spend in the public system. Therefore, private treatment may be a better option in terms of cost-effectiveness and overall quality.
Major health concerns in the UAE
If you are new to the Emirate, you should pay attention to your respiratory health particularly. This is because Dubai and its surrounding area are usually very dusty, and the frequent construction work only contributes to that state.
As a result, many new arrivals have developed breathing, or other lung and throat problems. The Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) is probably the most severe form of respiratory illness in the region. Another common ailment that visitors or new arrivals may get is heat stroke, thanks to the heat waves in the summer.
These health concerns have highlighted that expatriates should secure international health insurance before they leave their home countries. This is because their existing health insurance plans at home will not work in a new country. As mentioned above, expatriates are not entitled to public healthcare benefits, and visiting a private medical facility can easily rack up significant costs.
More info on public vs private healthcare
Our recently published Public and Private Healthcare in Dubai Guide is an informative and handy resource which helps our readers understand the key features and differences of public and private healthcare systems in Dubai. Inside this guide, you can find a detailed illustration of the pros and cons of both sectors, including their connections, qualities, costs, and services.
This handy tool provides answers to some of the most commonly asked questions such as:
- What are the major differences between public and private healthcare systems?
- What are healthcare free zones?
- What are the main health concerns in the UAE?
- What is the background of mandatory insurance laws?
This guide is a welcome addition to our extensive collection of guides and reports, which covers a wide range of health and insurance related topics in Dubai, including school insurance guide, IVF guide, insurance top-up guide, and many more!
Finding Dubai health insurance with Pacific Prime Dubai
With the goal of simplifying insurance, Pacific Prime Dubai is an established health insurance intermediary committed to helping our potential and existing clients find the plan that best matches their needs, no matter whether it is securing a new insurance plan or topping up an existing plan. Our team of specialists is on hand to offer you impartial insurance advice, an obligation-free quote, and a plan comparison! Contact us today!