United Arab Emirates
[Updated 3/27/23] When considering employee benefits in the UAE, it is important to know that over 90% of the working population are expatriates, and surveys show that healthcare and medical insurance are their most desired benefits.
In addition, recent regulations require all expatriates residing in Dubai or Abu Dhabi to hold a compliant health insurance policy under the DHA (Dubai Health Authority) or HAAD (Health Authority of Abu Dhabi) respectively, otherwise, a residency visa will not be granted. However, a compliant medical insurance policy does not automatically mean access to top-tier medical facilities or doctors.
For the time being, the other emirates within the UAE are still exempt from mandatory health insurance.
Nexus Insurance Brokers LLC
The most popular employer-sponsored employee benefits in the UAE are insurance for death, disability, and retirement plans.
The UAE has made it mandatory for all Dubai & Abu Dhabi residents to hold compliant health insurance. The law is in full effect, and no residency visa can be granted without a compliant policy in place. For existing residents, failure to comply with the law will attract fines, and any gaps in coverage will be identified at the time of visa cancellation or renewal. The law in Dubai has been fully in force on all segments since April 1, 2017, whilst Abu Dhabi has had similar legislation dating back to 2006.
Average Premium For Employer Sponsored Benefits
Based on the recent Dubai regulations, Dubai Health Authority-compliant medical schemes have to meet certain minimum benefit requirements.
Dubai employees earning 4000 Dhs and less are eligible for the Essential Benefit Plan ( EBP), which offers the minimum benefits and has an index rate imposed by the Health Authority varying between AED 600 to AED 900 ( +/-25 AED) per person per annum. Such plans are only offered by 16 authorized insurance companies.
The average premium for an Enhanced EBP solution varies between AED 900 to AED 1300 pppa. Outside of EBP and Enhanced EBP, the premium costs quickly escalate, and a middle-market plan with regional coverage will average AED 6500 pppa and a higher end International solution (Excl. the U.S.) will be in the range of 15,000 Dhs pppa.
Advice To Employers
In the UAE, expatriates are excluded from the national pension system and instead receive a lump sum end-of-service payment. As retirement benefits are a prime consideration for employees, especially those moving from country to country, it is advisable for employers entering the UAE market to be well informed about this topic.
On the medical front, Employers are recommended to act quickly and abide by the law, as non-compliance will incur financial penalties (AED 500) per employee per month and block visa processing.
Employers are often surprised about the minimal liabilities surrounding an employee´s death or disability when in service.
Whilst the 5 other Emirates of the UAE (excluding Dubai and Abu Dubai) remain without any mandatory health insurance regulation, we believe it is only a matter of time, and regulations will follow in the near future.