International travel insurance requirements: What employers need to know

international travel insurance article

In an increasingly globalized marketplace, placing employees in assignments across international locations has become an essential part of doing business. Sending staff overseas, however, can be a fairly complex and involved task. Beyond organizing employee accommodation and travel arrangements, it is also imperative to arrange adequate international travel insurance coverage to safeguard the health and safety of your staff, as well as ensure that the trip runs smoothly.

While the importance of meeting insurance obligations is clear, many employers struggle to thoroughly consider the requirements of sending their staff overseas. Should employers have an international travel insurance policy in place? Are there any mandatory insurance requirements employers should be aware of? These are big questions, and if left unaddressed employers could face costly outcomes both legally and to the business.

To help clear up some of the uncertainty around international travel insurance requirements, today’s article looks at the travel insurance requirements in key locations, what employers should be aware of when purchasing travel insurance for employees, and further discusses the differences between travel and international health insurance.

Knowing the international travel insurance requirements of your employee’s destination

Recent news about Thai officials calling for mandatory travel insurance has highlighted the importance of ensuring that employees have adequate international travel insurance coverage when going abroad.

Due to skyrocketing medical costs, uninsured visitors can be a large liability for state healthcare systems, which is why an increasing number of locations have already made or are in the process of making travel insurance compulsory.

Here, we’ve identified some of the countries that have already implemented mandatory international travel insurance regulations:

Schengen countries

The Schengen area covers the majority of European countries except for the UK, as well as a few other countries such as Bulgaria and Croatia. One of the documents required to apply for a Schengen visa is proof of insurance that covers “any medical emergency with hospital care and travel back to one’s native country due to medical motives”. The travel insurance policy must also have a minimum medical coverage limit of EUR 30,000, and should be valid within the whole Schengen region and for the full duration of travel.

schengen italy
The UAE

Travel health insurance is mandatory for anyone applying for a UAE visit or tourist visa. Insurance policies must cover inpatient accident and emergency expenses incurred while the visitor is in the UAE, with a minimum coverage limit of AED 150,000. Repatriation of remains must also be covered.

It must also be noted here that employers are legally required to secure compliant medical insurance coverage for foreign workers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Employers who fail to adhere to the respective Emirate’s specific minimum coverage requirements will be charged hefty fines, and employees who do not have adequate insurance will not be granted new or renewed visas.

Ecuador

As addressed in our recent article on Ecuador visa requirements, those staying longer than 90 days in Ecuador must secure and show proof of having either international travel insurance or a health insurance policy that will cover the visitor for their entire stay in the country. Foreigners granted a Temporary Residency or Permanent Residency Visa must either show proof of having private health insurance or be affiliated with Ecuador’s social security system.

ecuador

Cuba

Visitors to Cuba must show proof of travel health insurance to immigration before they are granted entry. Policies must at the very least cover medical emergencies, medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains.

cuba

In addition to the above countries, other locations that have recently introduced mandatory travel insurance regulations include Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Russia. As mentioned above, Thailand is also deliberating over a proposal requiring all foreign visitors to obtain international travel insurance before entering the country.

Things to be aware of when purchasing travel insurance for employees

One thing to be aware of when purchasing travel insurance is that the cheapest plan is in most cases not the most optimal and best value policy. Some travel insurance companies may issue very basic travel insurance for visa application/ entry purposes, but usually offer only very basic coverage with low limits and an extensive list of exclusions. Therefore, it can pay to search around for a travel insurance plan that offers higher levels of protection for all sorts of health and business travel related contingencies.

Please note here that even if you’re sending staff to a country that does not legally require insurance coverage, it’s still a good idea to consider what type of insurance coverage might be essential, since the employer is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of their employees. An ill or injured employee can be disruptive to your business, but one that can’t pay for care can represent a bigger problem.

Travel or international health insurance?

While travel insurance can be the best option for employees going away on short international assignments or visiting conferences, it’s likely not the best option for employees on mid-to-long term secondments or expatriation. Travel plans are generally of a short term nature intended for stays of between three to six months, and while they offer travel-related benefits such as emergency evacuation, as well as lost baggage and delay coverage, its health benefits are often limited to emergencies only.

International insurance plans, on the other hand, offer far more extensive medical coverage in both the employee’s home country and abroad. They provide coverage benefits in virtually every country and hospital in the world, and are also specifically designed to cater to the healthcare needs of globally mobile expats. They also often feature the option of including added benefits like dental, maternity, vision and other wellness benefits.

Get in touch with Pacific Prime today

Insurance can be a very complex market and trying to work out the travel health insurance requirements for your employees at the same time can be daunting. If you have any more questions or are unsure about your insurance obligations as an employer, the experienced corporate team at Pacific Prime can guide you through your options and specific requirements to ensure that your company and staff are protected at home and abroad.

To discuss your insurance requirements, contact the corporate team at Pacific Prime today!

Global health insurance provider Aetna buys Bupa Thailand

global health insurance provider Aetna acquires Bupa Thailand

At the end of July, leading global health insurance provider Aetna Inc. announced that it had acquired UK-based Bupa Group’s Thai business, Bupa Thailand, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition allows Aetna to significantly increase its presence in the Asia region, and is key to their strategy to go ‘broader and deeper’ into local healthcare markets around the world. Shortly after the acquisition was announced, Aetna also outlined the launch of its new service approach for large organizations with over 1,500 staff overseas.

Read on to learn more about Aetna’s acquisition of Bupa Thailand, and to find out about the global health insurance provider’s new service approach for international corporations.

About Aetna’s acquisition of Bupa Thailand

Aetna’s latest acquisition strategically combines the strengths and deep reach of both insurance companies to provide enhanced offerings to health insurance customers in Thailand. Bupa Thailand’s in-depth knowledge of the Thai healthcare market, system and culture, coupled with Aetna’s vast product portfolio and global health insurance expertise, will ultimately result in broader insurance product offerings in Thailand, as well as build on Bupa Thailand’s exceptional service.

“This is a significant and exciting expansion for Aetna in Asia, and clearly demonstrates our commitment to investment and growth in the region and globally”, commented Richard di Benedetto, President of US-headquartered Aetna International. “Thailand is an important market for us, with increasing local wealth driving greater adoption of health insurance.  Aetna’s wide product portfolio, together with an excellent talent and knowledge base transferring from Bupa, will put us in a very strong position in the local market.”

Established more than 30 years ago, Bupa is one of Thailand’s top health insurance providers, with over 300,000 members and a network of over 400 medical providers in the region. For a short period of time, Bupa Thailand will continue operating under the Bupa brand name before rebranding as Aetna.

Thailand: A lucrative market for global health insurance providers

As one of Asia’s most lucrative markets, Thailand continues to attract the attention of world leading global health insurance providers, many of whom are keen on establishing and growing their presence in the region. One key reason for this is continual economic growth in Thailand, which has resulted in a wealthier population.

According to our Cost of International Health Insurance – 2017 report, it is anticipated that the middle class population in Thailand will exceed 200 million by 2020. Not only are we witnessing a growing middle class, but the number of High Net Worth (HNW) individuals is also increasing. For example, the number of HNW in the region increased from 49,800 in 2009 to 95,700 in 2015. This increase in wealth has led to a growth in demand for both local and global health insurance products in Thailand.

Aetna’s new service approach for international corporations

Shortly after announcing its latest acquisition in Thailand, global health insurance provider Aetna also outlined the details of its new service approach for international corporations with over 1,500 staff overseas. Following detailed health insurance broker consultations, the company has developed a fully flexible solution designed to meet the corporate insurance needs of large companies with international operations.

Damian Lenihan, Executive Director of UK Distribution at Aetna International, outlined the new service approach in this article by Health Insurance & Protection Daily. According to Lenihan, the proposition consists of the following four main pillars:

Member support

By focusing on member needs, employer-provided health insurance policies should cover both core benefits (like inpatient and outpatient treatment), as well as additional health and wellness benefits (like dental insurance), as per customer requirements.

Service delivery

Everything from language needs to claims processing requirements should be tailored around member specifications. Aetna will also be able to provide solutions to clients looking to self-insure.

Full program transparency

“Granular analytical data and bespoke management reporting” are instrumental in helping employers understand their group policy’s medical costs, and where savings are made.

Partnership approach

By adopting a partnership approach, Aetna focuses on providing clients with a fully resourced and responsive team, who are able to deal with and handle every eventuality.

Pacific Prime: Your global health insurance specialist

With almost two decades of experience advising and matching clients with the best global health insurance solutions, Pacific Prime has developed longstanding partnerships with the world’s largest and most reputable insurers, including Aetna, Bupa, Liberty Insurance, Cigna, MSIG, and many more. As we are not beholden to one particular insurer, you can rest assured that we will find you a local, regional, or global health insurance plan that provides the best value for your specific needs and budget requirements.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about your insurance options, be sure to get in touch with one of our helpful advisors today. Those looking for further information on corporate insurance solutions can also check out our new online resource for corporate clients here.

New Ecuador visa requirements: Expats must show proof of health insurance

Ecuador visa requirements blog article

New Ecuador visa requirements have now made it mandatory for all long term tourists, temporary residents, and permanent residents including expats to have health insurance that covers them for the entire duration of their stay in the country. It is therefore essential for anyone visiting or moving to Ecuador to be aware of the recent changes to their visa entry requirements in order to avoid having their visas/ entry denied. Read on to find out whether the new Ecuador visa requirements apply to you.

What exactly are the new Ecuador visa requirements?

As of the time of writing this article, those visiting Ecuador as a tourist for less than 90 days during any given year do not need to show proof of travel or health insurance. Visitors from most countries do not require a visa to enter Ecuador for up to 90 days, with some notable country exceptions including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Senegal. Nationals of the following countries can stay in Ecuador for up to 180 days as a tourist: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The new Ecuador visa requirements only applies to tourists who want to extend their stay in Ecuador, temporary residents, and permanent residents. Below are the new Ecuador visa requirements for each visa category:

Tourist Visa Extension

If tourists want to stay in Ecuador for longer than 90 days, they may do so by applying for a Tourist Visa Extension, which will allow them to stay in the country for an additional 90 days. Tourists may also apply to extend their stay for a maximum period of one year by sending a special request to the Human Mobility Authority. This special extension can only be granted once every five years.

Please note here that anyone who wants to apply for a Tourist Visa Extension must secure and show proof of having either a health insurance policy or travel insurance that will cover them for their entire stay in Ecuador.

Temporary Residency Visa

Foreigners who are granted a Temporary Residency Visa will be allowed to stay in Ecuador for up to two years. During this period of time, those with a Temporary Residency Visa in Ecuador are allowed to leave the country up to 90 days in the first year, and again up to 90 days in the second year. Temporary Residency Visas are subject to cancellation if the visa holder fails to comply to the 90 day requirement, in which case they will need to either re-enter Ecuador with a new Temporary Residency Visa and/or new Tourist Visa, depending on their circumstances.

There are thirteen categories under this type of migration status:

  • Worker
  • Independent means
  • Pensioner
  • Investor
  • Scientist, researcher or academic
  • Athlete, artist or cultural agent
  • Religious or religious volunteer
  • Volunteer
  • Student
  • Professional, technician, technologist or master craftsman
  • International convention
  • Dependent (i.e. children, spouse or common law partner, etc.)
  • International protection

Those applying for a Temporary Residency Visa must show proof of having private health insurance or must be affiliated with Ecuador’s social security system, commonly known as the IESS or Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social. Please note here that the Temporary Residency Visa can only be renewed once.

Permanent Residency Visa

Permanent Residency Visas allow a foreign citizen to remain in Ecuador for an indefinite period of time. To obtain permanent residence status, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have stayed in Ecuador for at least 21 months;
  • Have married or formed a legally recognized civil union with an Ecuadorian person;
  • Be a minor or a disabled person who depends on an Ecuadorian person or foreigner with permanent resident status;
  • Be related to an Ecuadorian person or permanent resident of Ecuador.

For the first two years from the date the visa is granted, those with a Permanent Residency Visa are not allowed to be out of the country for more than 180 days each year. Those who fail to comply with this requirement will be charged a hefty fine.

As with the Temporary Residency Visa health insurance requirements, those applying for a Permanent Residency Visa must also show proof of having private health insurance or be affiliated with the IESS.

Private health insurance or the IESS?

If you’re applying for a Temporary or Permanent Residency Visa, there are two health insurance options available:

  • Membership in the IESS
  • Obtain private health insurance

Here, we provide an overview of the two options:

IESS

Expats can choose to enroll in the IESS, which is paid for through contributions either by yourself, or by your employer (if you are employed). The cost is 17.6% of your income, and an additional 3.41% for your spouse or common law partner, as long as they have a cedula (national identification) number for registration. These percentages, for many expats, can be a considerable amount.

Public medical care is 100% free if you’re enrolled in the IESS, as long as you visit facilities that are contracted with the IESS. That said, sometimes IESS pharmacies may not have the medications that you require, meaning you may have to go to a non-IESS facility to purchase them.

What’s more, the quality of medical care provided by IESS facilities can vary significantly in Ecuador, with most high quality facilities located in large cities like Guayaquil. Healthcare standards in smaller towns and rural areas are often very poor. Combine this with the fact that the IESS can be restrictive for foreigners to be able to afford or utilize (not being Ecuadorian citizens themselves), and it is easy to see why so many expats prefer having private health insurance.

Private health insurance

Those looking for private health insurance can choose to obtain either a local or international policy. If you’re on a tight budget and rarely travel, a local plan may be the best option for you. Local plans are often much cheaper than international health insurance, primarily because it covers a lot less geographically. That said, expats and frequent travellers often prefer international health insurance to benefit from much greater flexibility and freedom in choosing where they can seek care. The cost of international health insurance in Ecuador can range from as little as USD 66 for a basic plan, to USD 942 for a more comprehensive plan with added benefits such as dental and maternity cover.

Looking for more information on Ecuador visa requirements?

To learn more about the new Ecuador visa requirements and your health insurance options, contact the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime today. Also feel free to have a look at our Ecuador page here for in-depth information on healthcare and health insurance in Ecuador.

The most and least expensive countries for private international health insurance

reading glasses on a map representing someone comparing international insurance companies

Just over a week ago, we announced the release of our Cost of International Health Insurance report for 2017. This annual study collects the prices of international plans in 100 different countries and compares them to give insurers, intermediaries, and consumers a better understanding of what their own premium costs are. This week, we’re looking at the data from our Cost of International Health Insurance report again and are interested in making some comparisons between international insurance companies with the highest and lowest costs.

What’s in the Cost of International Health Insurance report?

Each year, we prepare this report so that people will have an overview of the current state of international medical insurance. Using ten global insurances companies that represent 70% of the total number of plans sold worldwide, we consider the average prices per country, compare them within their region and against the world, and discuss the factors contributing to the costs of insurance for the past year.

In short, Pacific Prime believes that the four primary factors influencing the cost of international health insurance in most countries are:

  • Increased demand for international quality private care
  • Increased cost of health care
  • Increased regulation
  • Continuing challenges related to fraud

How these factors have an impact on how much people pay for insurance around the world is described in detail in the report. For more information, download your copy today.

The highs and lows: who’s got the most expensive and cheapest insurance around the regions?

The report also separates countries into five regions in order to make faster comparison between neighboring countries. These regions are Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe. Taking into account plan prices for individuals, couples, families, and retirees, here are the countries per region with the highest and lowest overall international insurance premium:

Asia

Asia is an interesting case for international insurance premiums. While China does feature near the more expensive end of our rankings, Singapore has finally moved one spot ahead of it to take second place for the first time in three years. The most expensive Asian country for international insurance continues to be Hong Kong, who also retains its place as the second most expensive country in the world.

On the other end of the spectrum, we see Pakistan rank as the least expensive Asian nation for international insurance, with Laos and the Philippines its closest rivals.

Most Expensive

Least Expensive
Hong Kong

Average premium cost:

USD 12,585

Pakistan

Average premium cost:

USD 7,391

Africa

Africa is a region where many of the lowest international insurance prices exist. This may be because of lower numbers of expats, the lower cost of healthcare, or a great unfamiliarity of the region’s health capabilities for insurers. In fact, the region’s country with the highest insurance premium average, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has a cost that’s little higher than the lowest average country in Asia. Côte d’Ivoire is the second most expensive country in Africa, followed by Cameroon as the third most expensive location.

The countries with lowest average international insurance in Africa are tied, with all three countries possessing the lowest prices worldwide. Ethiopia, Angola, and Mali may be similar as insurers may assess them similarly in terms of risk and apply a blanket premium price among them.

Most Expensive

Least Expensive
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Average premium cost:

USD 8,226

Ethiopia, Angola & Mali

Average premium cost:

USD 7,027

The Americas

With the Americas, it’s inevitable that the United States will leave the rest behind in terms of insurance costs. The country has the most expensive healthcare in the world. Canada, for the average cost of international plans, sits at second place with just over half the cost of the US. Argentina rounds out the top three.

The least expensive country in the Americas for international health insurance is Panama, though it should be said that there is very little difference in the cost of insurance in South American countries.

Most Expensive

Least Expensive
United States of America

Average premium cost:

USD 19,274

Panama

Average premium cost:

USD 8,137

The Middle East

Regional insurance comparisons in the Middle East have been significantly impacted by legal changes in one of the region’s most popular expatriate locations; Dubai. New mandatory insurance laws have made predicting where premiums might head for the Emirate tricky, although Dubai still sits as second most expensive behind Israel. Israel itself is the 5th most expensive country in the world for international health insurance.

Azerbaijan, however, is the region’s least expensive country for insurance premiums.

Most Expensive

Least Expensive
Israel

Average premium cost:

USD 9,989

Azerbaijan

Average premium cost:

USD 7,248

Europe

Considering the number of countries included in the Europe comparisons (25 in total), there is a wide variety of international insurance plan prices across the board. The United Kingdom stands as the most expensive location for international health insurance in Europe, and is also the 7th highest overall in the world. Greece and Russia take spots two and three for most expensive.

At the other end of the scale, Poland, Ukraine, and Serbia make up the least expensive locations, with Serbia the lowest ranked overall and 79th when compared globally.

Most Expensive

Least Expensive
United Kingdom

Average premium cost:

USD 12,585

Serbia

Average premium cost:

USD 7,077

Pacific Prime: simplifying insurance

At Pacific Prime, we’re committed to ensuring that our clients get the best service possible. This means also proving that we’re market leaders in not just selling insurance, but in understanding the market and the people within it. As a result, there are a range of guides and infographics we’ve produced to help you make the best insurance decision possible for yourself, your family, or your company.

If you want to see the Cost of International Health Insurance Report 2017 for yourself, click here to download. There you can find out more about the countries we’ve analysed, the international insurance companies we’ve used for our comparisons, and the drivers we think are impacting the costs of insurance worldwide. For a free quote or some helpful advice, contact the team at Pacific Prime today.

Pacific Prime launches new corporate section for global businesses

corporate section

Never ones to rest on our laurels, Pacific Prime Insurance Brokers is proud to announce the launch of a new section on our website, PacificPrime.com! The new corporate section is an enhanced one-stop shop for all business insurance needs! If your company has any questions related to group health insurance, international health insurance or any other related topic, be sure to check out this new section, the homepage of which can be found here.

So what’s on offer? Let’s find out:

Insurance solutions

What kind of group health insurance coverages are out there? In the insurance solutions portion of the corporate section, find out about the various facets of group health insurance plans and why you might want to consider each for your employees. Medical insurance does not just mean coverage for medicine, hospital stays and surgeries. There are a number of other benefits that you can consider. This includes dental, vision, wellness, maternity, disability and life insurances, and more!

Outside of these above solutions that will address the needs of your employees, Pacific Prime also provides in this section information about some of the business-specific benefits that every company should know about, including:

  • Property insurance
  • Liability insurances
  • Group travel and accident insurance
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Business interruption insurance

With information on comprehensive medical and corporate insurance solutions, this page is a great place to start when searching for group and corporate insurance information.

Our approach

Lots of companies sell insurance for businesses and other organizations. Where Pacific Prime really shines, however, is in our methodology. With over 17 years of insurance broking experience, we now have the various processes that our members use down pat. Not only in assisting with making claims, but also when going through other planning and analysis. Not only do we provide policy broking service, but also consulting and plan administration, which you may not get with other brokers.

Even our closest competitors cannot match the technological advantages that Pacific Prime provides, including:

  • Census and premium management/accounting tools
  • A claims management tool
  • A document management platform

These in-house systems are all yours to take advantage of at zero additional costs versus going with an insurance company directly.  Check the ‘Our approach’ page to start to find out about why Pacific Prime will be your preferred choice.

Partners

As a corporate insurance broker, everything that we offer is one consideration, but it’s still only one piece of the equation where your insurance needs are concerned. We work with a good number of the world’s best global insurance companies, as well as the most highly regarded local insurers in the countries where our offices are located. Our ‘Partners’ section is the place where corporate members can go to find out more about our relationships with insurers.

Beyond the insurers we work with, you can also find out about some of the prestigious members that have made Pacific Prime their choice for group health and corporate insurance benefits. Learn some of the industries that we have the most experience with, such as professional service firms and schools. Then dig a little deeper to find out how our experience translates to advantages for our members when it comes to negotiating plans with insurers at renewal time or analyzing claims data.

Corporate section resources

The last part of the corporate section to mention is our resources page. Here, for corporate members that like to stay up to date on the latest in international insurance data, Pacific Prime regularly publishes reports related to various important industry trends including the cost of health insurance, international medical insurance inflation, and industry trends. Want to know how insurance in the countries in which your organization operates compares to policies found in other areas? Look no further!

Purchasing corporate insurance is no small decision. Pacific Prime recognizes this and wants to make sure that you are delivered the plan which best fits your needs, at a value that fits your budget. We have created the new corporate section to give a great introduction to what we can offer you, but there really is no better way to figure that out today than to contact us! Do so now and get advice directly from one of our insurance advisors. They can provide you with a plan comparison and free quote.

Let’s talk food in Dubai!

Food in Dubai

As we have entered July, many of us have been fasting for the past many weeks. There are numerous potential health benefits of fasting, including weight loss, lowered cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, but let’s face it, people are looking forward to getting back to their normal eating schedules. Are the residents of Dubai choosing healthy options, though? How are the foods that we most commonly enjoy in the Emirates affecting people here? Here, UAE Medical Insurance’s partner Pacific Prime attempts to answer these questions by examining available information about health and food in Dubai.

Dubai’s health situation

As with many other countries in the developed world, the UAE, and thereby Dubai, has been seeing increased incidence of so-called ‘lifestyle diseases’. In fact, some of the statistics related to the health of Dubai are quite striking. For instance, 66% of men and 60% of women in the Emirate are considered to be obese or overweight, and these kinds of figures can be seen across all age groups. This can be seen easily in children in the UAE in general, where a larger portion of children are obese than is seen in the United States, and, furthermore, UAE children have been found to have cholesterol levels consistent with those commonly seen in 60-year-old men. Here are some more points about the current level of health in the UAE:

  • 1 out of every 5 people in the UAE is diabetic.
  • The average age of heart attack patients at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital is 20 years younger than the worldwide average.
  • More than 40 percent of adults in the UAE between 35 and 70 years of age suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • The most common health complaint in the UAE is cardiovascular disease, both in expats and locals alike.
  • Non-communicable diseases are now responsible for over 60 percent of all mortalities in GCC countries, which includes the UAE.

As you can tell from these facts and figures, diseases of affluence have unsurprisingly become a major issue in Dubai, as well as the rest of the UAE. To counter these trends, it would be prudent to focus on a few main points: weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. Here are some of the popular local dishes you can find around Dubai, and some you might want to avoid over indulging in.

Food in Dubai

What are the dishes that Dubai is known for?

On the relatively healthy side of things, there are many great vegetarian dishes enjoyed widely in Dubai. These include staples like Falafel, Hummus, Kousa Mahshi and Tabbouleh. These foods mostly contain heart-healthy fats, dietary fiber and a smattering of vitamins that will provide good fuel for your body while not causing you to gain weight when eaten in moderation.

One of the main ingredients in the foods we eat leading to weight gain, and, thereby, other health problems, is sugar. If not burned immediately for energy, this sweet substance will be stored as fat in our bodies. This is why some of our favorite delectable Dubai dishes should be eaten very sparingly. These include desserts like Luqaimat, Khanfaroosh, Knafeh, Esh Asarya and Mehalabiya, or breakfast dishes like Khabees. Even something seemingly healthy and natural like Dates can have a serious amount of sugar hidden within.

Moving from simple to complex carbohydrates, the array of delicious bread to be found in Dubai will tantalize even the most veteran of savory food lovers. While often good sources of fiber, the carbs in bread often spike insulin, which promotes converting energy into glucose within your body, which will then be stored as fat. This includes the bread and wheat found in dishes like Shawarma, Al Harees, Manousheh, Fatteh, Kellaj, Lahem Bl Ajin and Tabbon Bread.

Finally, we have meat-focused dishes like Ghuzi, Al Machbous, Mixed Grill, Chelo Kebab, Stuffed Camel and more. While lean protein is generally good for you (and great for those who work out regularly), it’s still important to look at what else is on the plate. Watch out for sugary sauces and starchy side dishes that often go overlooked when placing your order.

Keeping healthy

Clearly, the flavors of Dubai are both rich and varied, and now you hopefully have an idea of which dishes you can enjoy on special occasions, and which you can regularly to maintain a healthy diet. In addition, it’s not always about what you are eating as it is how much of it you eat. Keeping track of your daily calories and managing your portions will go a long way to ensuring that your waistband isn’t expanding in perpetuity.

Coincidentally, the end of Ramadan this year also signals the beginning of the Dubai Health Authorities healthcare reform that now requires every single individual in the Emirate to be covered by a private health insurance plan, and for good reason. While preventive care and healthy living should be the focus for all of us in the UAE, there inevitably comes a time in the life of some when diseases like those mentioned previously in this article will catch up. This is when it will be imperative to have a high-quality healthcare plan that can address the potential costs of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Those who have yet to purchase private medical insurance for themselves or their families following the June 30th deadline should fear not, there’s still time. The DHA has stated that it will be giving a 6 month grace period during which no fines will be levied against the uninsured. That means people can still use the services of insurance brokers like UAE Medical Insurance to compare health insurance plans from major insurers in Dubai and receive free price quotations.  Whether you will be eating healthy now or not, it’s certainly in your best interest to prepare for any future health problems that could develop.