No health insurance, no visa, says DHA

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From August 1, no new visa will be issued or the existing one renewed if the applicant does not have health insurance coverage.

Dubai — The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has linked the health insurance scheme to visa issuance and renewal, meaning employers have to provide appropriate health insurance at the time of application — or face the risk of potential employees being turned down for a visa.

In November 2013 when the health insurance scheme was first introduced, the insured population in Dubai was 1.1 million. Since the phased introduction, until now, an additional 1.2 million people have become insured, with the total insured population in Dubai now standing at 2.3 million.

“This shows that employers are responding very well to the scheme,” said chairman of the board of the DHA, Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qatami.

The new enforcement system issued through the collaboration of the DHA and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), has been set in place to ensure that all employers and sponsors comply with their responsibilities.

It will become live on August 1, 2015, one day after the phase two implementation deadline of July 31, 2015.

The new rule means no new visa will be issued, or an existing one renewed, where the individual concerned does not have health insurance coverage in place at the time of visa application or renewal.

The linking of visa renewal or issuance to the mandatory health insurance will not be applicable for phase three companies who have until June 2016 to comply with the regulations.

The DHA says the move aims to keep the best interests of resident expatriates in Dubai at heart, to ensure they have access to essential health insurance at all times and encourages all employers who sponsor individuals on a Dubai Residence Visa (including Free Zone established entities), to comply with the phased roll out.

For Emirati nationals, the DHA has introduced the Saada health insurance scheme and the Enaya health insurance scheme is already in place for Government of Dubai employees.

The move comes in line with the implementation of the Health Insurance Law No 11 of 2013 passed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The implementation is currently in its second phase, and companies with 100 to 999 employees have until July 31, 2015, to provide their employees with health insurance.

Al Qatami said it has already seen lots of companies comply with the rules, ahead of the timeline.

“We encourage all those who have not to do so before the deadline. We anticipate that in phase two 600,000 people will be insured.”

In phase one, all employers who sponsor individuals on a Dubai Residence Visa (including Free Zone established entities) with more than 1,000 employees on their sponsorship were asked to provide health insurance for their workers. Companies with 100 to 999 employees have until the end of July 2015 as part of the phase two roll out of the scheme.

Companies below 100 employees have until end of June 2016 to cover their employees. All spouses, dependents and domestic workers will also have to be covered by June 2016.

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