Being employed or employing people in Dubai just got more complicated and potentially costly, due to new health insurance regulations, warns Jelf International

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In an effort to protect and maintain its world-class healthcare facilities, Dubai has over the past decade kept a careful watch on levels of migration in to the country and adjusted its health insurance legislation accordingly. The latest changes, this time brought in by the UAE Federal Insurance Authority intended to help reduce exposure to money laundering and terrorism financing, cover a wide range of issues and with significant financial penalties at stake, employers should ensure they are compliant, warns Jelf International. A number of insurers will require extra information by 30 April 2016.

Increased documentation
Health insurance regulation has been in place for a while now with insurers originally being required to use a fronting and compliant partner in Dubai who is registered to the DHA (Dubai Health Authority). This then changed to include mandatory documentation such as Emirates ID cards, Visa copies, passport copies, JPEG photos etc. Following that, the regulations then evolved to stipulate mandatory levels of coverage as a minimum, and that all employers in Dubai need to provide (and pay for) coverage for employees that satisfies these minimum benefit levels.  The information requirements have just changed again earlier this year, with the need for details on an employee’s salary to be disclosed and whether they are linked to politically exposed people amongst other details.

Not only does the documentation need to be provided in order to obtain health insurance but they are also required on an annual basis before the policy can be renewed. Jelf International warns that is it vital for employers to use a broker who is well versed and up to date on market changes in the area in order to remain compliant.

Employers who do not meet the new legislative requirements could be fined from around £95 (AED 500) per month per employee for failing to provide compliant cover up to £1,900 (AED 10,000) per employee for the employer not providing health insurance to its employees or for recovering the premium cost from its employees. Health insurers are also being closely monitored with heavy penalties for practicing any activity without a valid Dubai permit, or for failing to up load policies to the national member register.

Adam Harding, Business Development Manager, Jelf International said: “Doing business in Dubai is not as simple as it once was and we’d advise anyone working there to keep an up to date and easily accessible documentation file to ensure they do not have gaps in health insurance coverage by spending time pulling this all together on an ad hoc basis.

“For employers, pre-planning is essential for Dubai – you can’t just decide to enrol someone, it takes time to get the documentation and information required. Employers need to be mindful of this before promising employees immediate insurance coverage and employees need to be aware that a lot of the responsibility is with them to get the documentation to their HR function as quickly as possible to ensure coverage.

“The Dubai authorities are sending out a loud and clear message that they only want companies, employers and employees based in the region, if they take their health insurance coverage seriously.”

Other Gulf States
For surrounding locations it is also important that regardless of which country the member is based in, they will need to abide by the regulations of the emirate from which their visa is issued, which is dependent on the location of the entity that is sponsoring the member. For example if the Dubai company is sponsoring a visa, even though the member may be based in a different country inside or outside of the UAE, the DHA rules still need to be adhered too and all information requests met.

In addition to other regulatory changes, HAAD (Health Authority Abu Dhabi) has just implemented some strict coverage regulation for a set of named government and semi/government entities, showing that in future as the health regulation evolves, authorities may target specific rulings to certain industries.

Harding concluded: “This is a massively complex subject and one where employers would do well to seek advice. It is only a matter of time before the authorities in Dubai issue a massive fine to act as a warning signal to all employers and employees based on the region.”

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