Dubai: Parents of premature babies can now be reassured as maternity insurance coverage will be part of the compulsory basic package in Dubai, according to the Dubai Health Authority.
Expatriate parents in Dubai who face complications during pregnancy or who have premature babies that require a long stay at a hospital’s Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will be able to avail of more comprehensive insurance cover worked out by the DHA.
Currently, the daily charges at an NICU ward at a government hospital are anywhere between Dh2,000 to Dh4,000 and this does not cover medication and the laboratory investigation fees.
Under the new insurance laws passed in 2013, which will cover the entire population by 2016, every resident will have at least basic coverage which will also include maternity coverage, according to Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, Head of Health Funding at DHA.
“The essential benefits package [which is now the minimum accepted cover for all new policies sold in Dubai] covers the child for 30 days under the mother’s policy. The aggregate annual limit for that policy cannot be less than Dh150,000 per year, and is usually higher. The essential benefit package is the bare minimum cover that employers have to provide which includes coverage for maternity care. So, as and when the phased introduction of health insurance takes place and the population gets insured as per the DHA timelines, all these cases will get the essential coverage needed, if not more,” said Dr Al Yousuf.
The new law, once implemented, will apply to all new policies in Dubai. The DHA has an electronic platform for monitoring transactions related to health insurance (e-claim link) and has an electronic patient feedback/complaints portal for any patient inquiries/complaints (I-promes) where all the cases will be taken into account, said Dr Al Yousuf. The minimum coverage for all pre-term babies will be Dh150,000, Al Yousuf explained.
Al Yousuf explained: “So far, statistics available about the the insured population indicate that the total number of babies admitted to NICUs in Dubai in 2013 was 3.1 per cent of the total number of live births in Dubai. Of these, only in 0.08 per cent of the cases did the bill exceed Dh150,000. This means less than 0.1 per cent of the population may require some additional funding,” said Dr Al Yousuf.
“There are models to cover the cases that are not fully covered by insurance and the system has embedded solutions to look into such cases,” he added.
The NICU wards in DHA hospitals are the largest available in the country but some parents of premature babies have complained of waiting lists as beds are not available there. To meet the increasing requirements, the NICU wards at Dubai Hospital have added 12 new beds and Latifa Hospital is adding 16 new beds, according to the DHA spokesperson.
Both hospitals are currently well-equipped with tertiary-level NICUs. Latifa Hospital has a 48-bed NICU unit and Dubai Hospital has a 32-bed unit. The hospitals admit babies with lowest gestational age and birth weight, which is 24 weeks onwards and 500 grams onwards.
Both units provide level III (tertiary level) neonatal intensive care, as categorised by the American Academy of Paediatrics, which is the highest level of care for newborns.