Medical Insurance
26/08/2020

Medical Insurance – How To Choose Your Plan In 2020

Medical Insurance pays for your treatment if you are unwell. There are many insurance companies providing these policies to expatriates. Each company has a range of plans with different features and benefits. This post provides you with a guide on choosing the plan which is right for you. The areas I will be focusing on are:

  • Network
  • Insurance Company
  • Geographic Coverage
  • Benefits
  • Cost
  • One Last Thing

Network

For most people, the first thing they want to know is where will they be able to use their medical insurance. This is the network. Making sure the insurance policy has a wide selection of hospitals, clinics and pharmacies within the network is important.

Some companies have their own networks. Others use a third-party administrator (TPA) to provide the network. In the UAE, two popular TPAs are Neuron and NextCare.

Medical Insurance Company

The choice of an insurance company is important. This is because when you buy insurance you are buying a promise that they will act in a certain way when you are in need. Only use companies holding a licence to offer medical insurance within your jurisdiction. The company should also have a good reputation and be financially secure. This is so that they have the resources to pay your claims. A list of licensed medical insurance companies for the UAE can be found on the Dubai Health Authority’s website.

Geographical Coverage

As expats, most treatment is received in the country where we live. However, there are occasions where the medical treatment we need is not available locally. Sometimes the condition is so serious we want to have our family nearby. In these cases, having international cover is essential. International plans offer benefits in 3 regions. They are regional (Middle East, Africa and Asia), Worldwide excluding the USA, and Worldwide. This is for elective treatment. Most international plans offer some emergency cover outside their area of elective treatment cover. For example, a worldwide excluding the USA plan may offer limited emergency benefits in the USA if you fall ill or suffer an accident whilst visiting the USA.

Medical Insurance Benefits

If you are resident in Dubai or Abu Dhabi there are statutory minimum benefits. However, these are very basic benefits and the network of hospitals where treatment can be received are limited. These plans are mainly provided by employers for the purpose of securing an employment visa. The Essential Benefits Plan details can be seen here. Plans offering better benefits than the Essential Benefits Plan are ‘enhanced’ plans.

Enhanced benefits include international cover, treatment in private hospitals, enhanced maternity, optical benefits and dental cover.

Cost of Medical Insurance

The cost of medical insurance is a function of:

  • your age,
  • the cost of treatment where you are living, and
  • the benefits provided in your plan.

The cost can be controlled by electing to pay part of each claim for example 10% of outpatient claims up to a maximum of AED50. Other options would include removing high charging hospitals such as American Hospital Dubai and to a lesser extent Mediclinics The City Hospital.

Another way of controlling the cost of your medical insurance is the frequency of your payment. All policies are annually renewable. However, most insurance companies offer monthly payment terms. If there is a change in your circumstances you remain liable for the remaining premiums on your policy. Although many insurers are sympathetic, they have the final say on whether the remaining premiums due will be waived. Paying annually in advance has the benefit of a discount. In one case, up to 12%. Whilst this is attractive, there is less opportunity for a refund if you need to cancel the plan partway through the year.

One Last Thing

To access a list of authorised medical insurance brokers, please click here. When using a broker, I recommend you read this page. Of course, I am here to help if you would like a quote for international medical insurance.

Summary

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this post, leave me a message here, call me on 050 594 5217 or make a reservation in my diary by clicking here.

ABOUT STUART

Stuart Porter - Expat Financial Advisor UAE
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