The first Emirati health-insurance programme to focus on prevention rather than cure has launched in Dubai as part of Government efforts to improve the nation’s well-being.
Called Sa’ada, the scheme is for all Emiratis in Dubai who do not benefit from any other government-funded health-insurance cover.
It is expected to reach 130,000 people, offering them health care at 23 private hospitals and more than 500 medical clinics in and around Dubai.
Registration, by using Emirates ID cards, opens tomorrow at clinics and medical centres. Health screening is mandatory. A smartphone app can alert those signed up, for example, of an upcoming blood sugar test or chest X-ray, depending on their age and medical history.
It is hoped the scheme will encourage early diagnoses and improve the chances of successful treatment.
Dr Haidar Al Yousef, director of health funding at Dubai Health Authority, said the scheme would benefit Emiratis who did not have health insurance covered by their employer.
“Sa’ada will allow access to any services that are available in the network,” he said. “Screening is a mandatory component of this programme.
“All members must get screened for diseases so we can detect them earlier and administer the appropriate care.
“It is a unique programme as usually health insurance does not cover preventive measures like this. Sa’ada is a smart programme that mandates prevention through the national ID system.”
Individuals working in the private sector must pay 10 per cent of the cost of services.
Once registered, those eligible can immediately find out what they are entitled to as soon as their ID card is scanned. There is no age restriction.
A 24-hour Arabic-speaking help centre is being made available, run by UAE nationals. A mobile registration unit is also being deployed to remote areas so all Emiratis can enrol.
Failure to complete a health screening once prompted to do so, however, could jeopardise the person’s policy renewal.
The Sa’ada scheme is the latest innovation in the UAE’s health-insurance market.
In Dubai, mandatory health-insurance schemes are being gradually phased in. Companies with more than 1,000 workers already have to ensure health cover is in place. In phase two, companies with between 100 and 999 employees have until the end of July to comply. Companies with fewer than 100 workers have until the end of June next year.
If companies fail to abide by the rules, fines of between Dh50 and Dh500,000 could be levied.
The country’s biggest health insurer, Daman, is also considering plans to use Emirates ID cards as a means of identification for hospital visits by its 2.4 million members.
The insurer is examining the possibility of using digital cards on smartphones to monitor health visits to reduce misuse and fraud.