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Do residents need medical insurance in Dubai and the UAE?

Нужна ли медицинская страховка в Дубае и ОАЭ для резидентов?

The development of medicine in the UAE began not so long ago – about twenty years ago. A powerful impetus for this was the Government’s decision to turn its state into a territory with the highest standard of living. One of its fundamental criteria is high-quality and affordable medical care. Already today, the healthcare system of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, created from scratch, has equaled the systems of the leading countries of the world in its capabilities, and the principalities themselves have turned into a center of medical tourism. The services of gynecologists treating infertility, orthopedists, dentists, dermatologists are in particularly high demand here. However, to use medical services for residents in Dubai, medical insurance is required.

How is the healthcare system in the UAE?

At the government level, the work of healthcare is closely monitored by the Ministry of the same name (MOHAP), at the local level – by regional departments. The system is divided into two sectors: public and private. In public sector clinics, the service for citizens of the country is free of charge. Foreigners can also use them, but for a fee and with a medical card.

In Dubai, you can apply for a medical card online through the website of the Department of Health or by contacting any medical and sanitary center. The applicant will be required to:

  • passport with visa and scan with visa page (if it is not open yet, then you need to provide a copy of the application for opening);
  • ID card and its copy;
  • lease agreement or paid utility bill for the last month;
  • 2 photos in size, as for a passport.

Registration of a medical card, unlike medical insurance, is a voluntary matter. It is issued for one year and extended no later than one month before the expiration date. It can be opened for both adults and children. The availability of a medical card expands access to specialized specialists and certain types of treatment, and children can get vaccinations that are not covered by medical policies. The price of the medical card is from 110 to 310 AED.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi have the highest level of medical care. The best specialists work here and almost any services are provided. The staff is provided with better working conditions, higher salaries, but patients also pay more than in other places. For a short meeting with a doctor in a Dubai clinic, you will have to pay about $ 70, in the capital – about 55. However, this is not a deterrent for foreigners: the cost of similar services in clinics in the USA and the UK is about 4 times higher.

Urgent medical care and subsequent treatment in state clinics are provided to everyone free of charge. However, if a non-citizen needs further treatment, surgery, etc., an invoice will be issued for this.

In Dubai, 85% of medical institutions belong to the non-state sector, in Abu Dhabi about 64% of them, the rest are state–owned. The quality of services is practically the same. However, foreigners prefer to apply to private institutions. The reason is that there are more foreign doctors working there, and it is easier for English-speaking patients to explain the subtleties of their problems.

Doctor in the UAE

Since 2014, everyone who lives or enters the country requires a medical policy. However, only in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this requirement was implemented by law at the local level. So, in Dubai, a one-and-a-half-year transition period was established, during which all citizens and expats had to take out medical insurance. The legal responsibility for its design was assigned to the sponsors. For employees of the company, the sponsor is the company itself, for dependents (spouses, children, elderly parents) these can be working family members, for foreign specialists – the inviting party.

In order not to overload the relevant services, the implementation of the law was divided into several stages with clear deadlines. On the first (until 31.10.14), the documents were issued by enterprises with more than a thousand employees, on the second (until 31.07.15) – from 100 to 1000 people, on the third – small organizations with a staff of up to 100 people, as well as residents, their families, household staff.

Today’s Dubai is a large medical center, whose services meet the highest standards. The world’s first medical ecosystem, Dubai Health Care City (DHCC), has been created here, bringing together about 4,500 doctors and nurses from around the world who speak dozens of languages. There are 8 ultra-modern hospitals and about 160 clinics in the zone. Each of them is equipped with the most modern diagnostic, therapeutic and operational equipment.

To stimulate medical tourism, the Ministry of Health has created an information portal – DXH, where you can get any information of interest, make an appointment, book a procedure, including cosmetology or preventive. Using the portal, visitors can also get a discount when booking tickets, hotels, making transfers and medical insurance.

Who needs medical insurance in the UAE?

A few years ago, the Emirates joined the states with mandatory medical insurance. However, the requirements are different in different principalities. For Dubai and Abu Dhabi, they are the toughest. This is due to the fact that the bulk of the country’s population lives here, and the main flows of visitors are directed here. In other principalities, insurance is required only from employees.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi hospital

Citizens of the country residing in this principality are insured under the state program Thiqa. Participation in the program allows you to use many types of services both in private clinics and in public ones belonging to the Daman network, and also involves preventive health screening. Citizens of the Principality aged from 18 to 75 are eligible to participate in the program.

Foreigners residing in the territory of the emirate are required to have a medical policy. Employers are charged with the obligation to provide their employees, as well as a non-working spouse and three children with a medical center. At the same time, the employer pays only 50% of the required amount for the dependent of his employee, the second 50% is paid by the employee. The costs of insurance for the fourth and subsequent children, as well as domestic staff, are paid by the employee for 100% of their funds.


By law, the entire population of the emirate is obliged to have a medical center, the amount of coverage of which must exceed the minimum threshold set by the Department of Health. Such a medical center covers the costs of emergency care, visiting a therapist, passing standard tests, prescribing treatment, physiotherapy procedures, simple operations, childbirth. This list can be expanded at any local insurer.

The Saada insurance program is valid for citizens of the country. Holders of such a policy get access to state and most non-state clinics.

Providing employees with health insurance at the expense of the company is a legally fixed obligation of the employer, but the companies are not obliged to insure their dependents (although some do this as an incentive). Sponsors are responsible for the insurance of expats and their dependents.

Dubai Hospital


Only civil servants are required to be insured here.


Here, civil servants, as well as everyone who is dependent on them, must necessarily be insured.

Lack of medical insurance

Mandatory medical insurance is legally fixed only in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Lack of insurance is a violation of the law, for which a fine is due. In the capital emirate, its amount is 300 AED per month for each person, in Dubai – 500. If the fines are not repaid, then the violator will not be extended a visa.

Private insurance in Abu Dhabi and Dubai

For citizens of the UAE, there are insurance state programs that provide a large list of opportunities. This segment of the population is mainly served in state institutions, where many services are free, and the staff speaks Arabic better than English. Foreigners with insurance and medical records can also apply to such clinics, but insurance in a private company is a more suitable option.


Who needs a private health insurance policy?

All expats and their dependents living on the territory of the principalities, since these categories of the population do not have access to state insurance programs.

Advantages of the design

  • the staff of private clinics speaks perfect English, which simplifies communication on complex medical topics when discussing problems, prescribing treatment;
  • numerous additional options are available for those who are insured for the first time;
  • if such insurance is overdue, you won’t have to pay a fine for it every month.

Private health insurance program

Sponsors or employers are responsible for the availability of health insurance for the employee and his family members. If an enterprise has the right not to pay insurance to dependents of its employees and does not want to do it voluntarily, the employee will have to take care of them himself. The cost of the policy of a person in maintenance starts from 599 dirhams, and the total amount depends on age, a set of additional options and types of therapy.

Upon the occurrence of an insured event, it is necessary to contact the insurance company and find out whether the policy will cover it. If it covers, then the bill that the medical institution will issue must be sent to the insurance company.

You can make sure that the medical insurance is valid on the website of the state insurance Fund.

How to apply for a medical policy?


On the website of the Dubai Department of Health www.isahd .ae posted a list of 46 insurance companies operating in the territory of the emirate with a detailed description of prices and services provided. All of them are registered and have a license. Nine organizations from this list issue basic packages. On the website, you can choose and apply for any type of insurance.

Essential Benefits Plan (EBP) is a minimum policy provided to residents of Dubai with earnings of 4000 dirhams and to everyone who has no income at all: unemployed wives, children, as well as domestic workers. The annual coverage limit is 150 thousand dirhams. It includes expenses for:

  • emergency care;
  • inpatient and outpatient therapy;
  • performing simple operations;
  • six sessions of physiotherapy;
  • taking tests;
  • diagnostics;
  • therapy of malignant neoplasms of the breast, cervix and intestines, as well as hepatitis C.

For pregnant women, the basic package includes:

  • eight visits to a gynecologist with a condition of additional payment of 10% of the cost;
  • three ultrasound procedures;
  • prenatal tests;
  • natural childbirth with a coverage limit of up to 7000 dirhams (emergency caesarean section pays 10% the policyholder);
  • the newborn will be able to use his mother’s insurance for the first month of life.

According to the terms of the policy:

  • the person who purchases it undertakes to cover 20% of the cost of medical care, provided that the cost of one visit does not exceed 500 AED, the rest is paid by the policyholder;
  • during the first half of the year, the insurance does not cover the therapy of chronic diseases;
  • if the annual cost of medicines per person does not exceed 1500 AED, then the insurance will reimburse 70%. Immunostimulating and preventive drugs also fall under the coverage.

The general insurance package is designed to cover the minimum of medical services that a person may need. If the client wants to get access to better service, it is better for him to buy an individual policy with additional options. Some firms pay bonuses to employees to expand health insurance as an incentive.

Patient with doctor

Private insurance significantly expands the choice of clinics, doctors and procedures. These can be psychotherapy sessions, consultations of ophthalmologists, dentists, cosmetologists, etc.

Basic insurance is valid only in Dubai. If you travel frequently, it is recommended to buy a policy with international coverage.

If you are going to stay in Dubai for the permitted 90 days and decide to take out medical insurance yourself, do it in advance, since you will have to present it already at the airport. It should cover services in the amount of 50 thousand euros and take into account the possibility of:

  • evacuation to the homeland;
  • coronavirus therapy in a local hospital;
  • repatriation for medical reasons.

Emergency medical care — instructions

  1. Call 999, 998 or the one specified in the policy. Emergency care is free of charge regardless of the patient’s status and ability to pay.
  2. During the day, inform the policyholder about the incident and write down the number of the appeal. On a non-working day, it is enough to leave a message in the mail.
  3. If emergency help is not needed and the patient can get to the clinic by himself, take him there. But first get the consent of the insurance company. Otherwise, you may be billed.
  4. All prescribed medications should be purchased within three days from the date of appointment, otherwise their cost will not be reimbursed.

The cost of medical services

Doctors in Dubai

All types of medical care, with the exception of emergency, are paid for foreigners. If an ambulance delivered a patient in a serious condition to a hospital that is not covered by the medical policy, doctors will do everything possible to stabilize his condition, but for further treatment they will be transported to the medical institution where his insurance is valid. The price of treatment depends on the type of services. The most expensive operations are joint replacement, vascular bypass surgery, and organ removal. However, if there is a policy, the patient pays only 20% of the cost of treatment.


Standard insurance includes simple gynecological procedures: a doctor’s examination, therapy of common female diseases. However, infertility treatment, fertility determination, in vitro fertilization are paid and very expensive procedures. For example, IVF will cost from $ 10,000 to $20,000. Nevertheless, the demand for gynecological services is very high, and the described procedures, regardless of the price for them, are in demand among foreigners.


This area of medicine in the UAE is of high quality. Therefore, it is better if it is included in the coverage list. A simple dental examination is inexpensive – an average of 100 AED, enamel cleaning – 300 AED. However, laser bleaching, canal treatment, and implantation are expensive procedures. For example, the installation of veneers costs more than 2000 AED, and one dental implant costs more than 5000 AED.


Most of the medicines that can be freely bought in any pharmacy in Russia are sold only by prescription in the Emirates, and many are completely prohibited. It is prohibited to transport such drugs across borders. If a chronic disease requires constant intake of any medications, then it is necessary to clarify their status before arriving in the country. If the medicine is prohibited, you will be recommended which permitted analogue you can use.

But even if the drug is not prohibited, but according to local rules it belongs to prescription, a non–resident has the right to bring supplies with him only for three months, a resident – for 12 months. At the same time, he must have with him a letter from the attending physician with an English translation and notarization confirming the appointment. The drug itself must be in its original packaging. For violation of this rule, a fine or even imprisonment is imposed.

Coronavirus situation


Since February of this year, when crossing the border of the state, the traveler is obliged to present any document confirming the absence of coronavirus. These include:

  • certificate of full vaccination with a QR code, a drug approved by WHO and the UAE;
  • negative PCR test with a QR code. The analysis should be done no later than two days before boarding the plane;
  • a certificate of recovery issued no later than 30 days before arrival.

Any of the documents must be in English or Arabic, in electronic or printed form. SMS inquiries are not accepted. Children under the age of 12 and the disabled are exempt from taking the PCR test.

Free vaccinations are available only to citizens and residents, the rest can be vaccinated for money. It is easier to do this in the capital of the state, you need to have a passport with a visa. For 370 AED, the patient will choose any vaccine recognized by WHO.

Let’s summarize:

  1. Medical insurance in Dubai is mandatory for citizens, residents, dependents, tourists.
  2. The presence of a medical card is optional, but it gives a number of advantages.
  3. The employer is legally obliged to issue a medical certificate to an employee, but is not obliged to do this with respect to family members and servants who arrived with him.
  4. The absence of insurance is punishable by a fine.
  5. The cost and result of treatment depend on the type of policy and the amount of its coverage.
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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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