Health Insurance for Expats and Foreigners in Dubai and the UAE
The UAE requires expats to have health insurance. Expats employed by Dubai employers will be granted basic medical insurance, but the coverage is limited. International health insurance offers expats a more comprehensive coverage option.
Expats moving to or visiting Dubai will want to ensure they have a health insurance plan that abides by these regulations. Pacific Prime partners with several international health insurance providers who do so.
In this guide, we will discuss the healthcare system in Dubai and the UAE as well as the quality of public and private health insurance. We will also introduce top international health insurance providers.
We have also created an additional guide to show you the differences between private and public healthcare in Dubai, covering the strengths and weaknesses of each system. Check it out here. Expats will want to learn What Happens If You Don't Have Medical Insurance in Dubai.
The Healthcare System in Dubai and the UAE
Healthcare is free for all UAE citizens and is regulated at both the Emirate and Federal level. It is not free for expats.
The UAE consists of seven Emirates:
- Abu Dhabi
- Ras el Khaimah
- Umm al Qaiwain
Of all the Emirates, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have the strictest health insurance regulations.
Public healthcare services are provided by various regulatory authorities in the UAE. In Dubai, the healthcare system is managed by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Dubai Health Care City (DHCC).
Standards of healthcare in the UAE are very high, with a comprehensive health service that is funded by the government and a rapidly evolving private healthcare sector that delivers excellent healthcare to the population.
Dubai offers top-quality public and private hospitals. These hospitals can be luxurious for medical facilities and there is multilingual staff in both sectors. Emergency rooms are only available in public hospitals.
How Expats Can Access Healthcare in the UAE
Expats with resident visas can apply for a health card to grant them access to public healthcare facilities. This will permit access to public healthcare services for a lower cost, but never for free like emirate citizens.
Health cards can be applied for through the DHA online or through a medical center.
To apply, expats will need to provide the following documents:
- Emirati identity card
- Residency visa
- Copy of a tenancy contract
Doctor Visits in Dubai and the UAE
To see a doctor in Dubai, expats can first search for a provider online. You can find a doctor through the Dubail Healthcare City listings on their website. You can use the UAE government website to find a doctor.
A DHA health card will make routine doctor visits easy. You will check in at the clinic or hospital reception, fill out paperwork, and submit your card.
Health Insurance Options for Expats in Dubai and the UAE
Public and private health insurance are the two options available to expats in the UAE. Public health insurance is available for locally employed expats once the employee’s work visa is issued.
Private health insurance is available through local insurance companies and international insurance companies. Expats must take out private health insurance to receive a UAE residency visa.
Public and Private Coverage for Expats in Dubai and the UAE
Public health insurance provided through employers has limited coverage in the UAE, while private coverage offers extensive coverage and benefits. Dental and optical services are not covered by public health insurance.
Employers are required to provide medical insurance for their expat employees but there are no requirements to cover their dependents. This means that it is up to the employer if they decide to cover your family or not.
An overview of public and private insurance coverage is demonstrated below. To learn more about how expat employees and their dependents can secure health insurance, read our blog post titled Is Health Insurance Free in Dubai For Expats?
Public insurance offers coverage for:
- Routine care
- Maternity care
Private insurance offers coverage for:
- In-patients treatments
- Out-patient services
- Emergency care
- Evacuation and repatriation
- Additional benefits like dental, vision, and maternity
Best International Health Insurance Options in Dubai and the UAE for Expats
The top international health insurance plan for expats in the UAE will offer comprehensive coverage and customizable benefits.
Here is a list of the best international health insurance providers in Dubai and the UAE:
- William Russell
- April International
- MSH International
- AXA (known as GIG Gulf in the UAE)
- NOW Health
Pacific Prime negotiates with insurance companies for customers to find them the best possible plan for their needs. Because we aren’t tied to one specific insurer, we can give impartial advice as we help you compare plans.
International Health Insurance in Dubai and the UAE - Plans and Coverage
The best international health insurance companies in the UAE include Aetna, Cigna, and more. We will offer a brief overview below of each provider and the key points and benefits of their plans and coverage.
Aetna is a Fortune 100 company in the United States and offers expats comprehensive quality healthcare coverage in Dubai and the UAE. They offer flexible and customizable benefits plans with additional options for medical, vision, dental, and pharmacy coverage.
Aetna offers expats international coverage through their Pioneer plans. These plans range in coverage and limits with five levels of coverage to choose from.
The basic coverage for their plans includes:
- Inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment (up to 90 days)
- Emergency medical evacuation
- Rehabilitation up to 120 days
- Emergency dental and optical treatment
Cigna Global provides flexible insurance plans to expats in the UAE with 24/7 access to a customer care team. Their plans are both customizable and comprehensive.
Cigna has a silver, gold, and platinum plan with different levels of coverage and limits. All three of these plans share several common key coverage benefits:
- Inpatient and day-patient treatments
- Cancer treatments
- Accidental death or total permanent disability compensation
William Russell offers insurance plans that are globally portable across countries, so expats can travel while protected. They also renew their contracts on an annual basis, so their members never feel like they’re locked into long-term contracts.
William Russell offers two options for health insurance plans: silver and gold. Gold is more expensive and comprehensive, while silver is more affordable and basic.
The basic features of all their plans are:
- Hospitalization treatment
- Cancer treatment and care
- Emergency evacuations
- Post-hospital physiotherapy
Allianz offers comprehensive insurance plans in the UAE to cater to all expats’ needs. Riders are available to be purchased and attached to any basic policy that Allianz approves. These riders can offer coverage for accidents and other risks.
Allianz offers a selection of plans designed especially for Dubai that range in limits and coverage. They offer Dubai Elite Individual, Dubai Prime Individual, and Dubai Select Individual.
The basic coverage across all their plans includes:
- Inpatient costs
- Diagnostics and laboratory tests
- Ambulances transport
- Cancer treatment
April International has over 30 years of experience in the international health insurance market and provides both comprehensive and flexible plans to expats while in the UAE. They provide varying levels of coverage, fully customizable policies, and a wide direct billing network.
They offer different levels of coverage in four plan options: core, essential, extensive, and elite.
Some of the shared coverage across their plans are:
- 24/7 Evacuation, repatriation, and assistance services
- Hospital and Surgeries
- Cancer treatments
Bupa Global offers expats tailor-made plans and guaranteed lifetime renewal. They provide high-quality service with a personal relationship manager available for their members.
In Dubai and the UAE, Bupa Global works with Oman Insurance Company P.S.C. (“Sukoon”) to provide expats with global health plans. You can see more information on Sukoon’s website.
Bupa offers international plans in the categories of select, premier, elite, and ultimate. These vary in annual limits in coverage. Each plan offers these same key services:
- Inpatient coverage
- Emergency evacuation and repatriation
- 24/7 access to medical advice through the Bupa Global service center
- Direct access to specialists without referral
MSH has almost 50 years of experience in providing health insurance for expats and their families. With features like online claim reimbursement and medical teleconsultations, they are dedicated to their members' support and wellness.
Their insurance plans come in differing levels from “quartz” to “diamond”, with the most expensive plan offering the highest coverage limits and additional benefits. Here are some of the basic features across their plans:
- Inpatient treatment
- Cancer treatment
- Emergency evacuation
AXA (GIG Gulf)
AXA Insurance UAE recently was acquired by GIG Gulf, one of the largest insurers in the Middle East. They offer expats in the UAE different plans with varying levels of coverage and customizable additional benefits.
They offer both short-term and long-term plans, with comprehensive coverage for any medical needs. Some examples of shared coverage by all AXA insurance plans include:
- Hospital charges and surgery
- Emergency coverage
- Medical evacuation and repatriation
- Cancer treatment
NOW Health International offers expats abroad comprehensive health insurance solutions, as well as providing plans for international students. They offer online claim processes through a mobile app and provide other prompt online support.
They have several different tiers of plans: WorldCare Advance, WorldCare Excel, and WorldCare Apex. These plans differ in annual limits and coverage options.
These are the key benefits shared across all three benefits:
- In-patient and day-patient care
- Organ transplant
- Evacuation and repatriation
- Cancer treatment
Additional Benefits and Coverage
- Dental: Dental check-ups, cleanings, and major dental procedures can be covered by additional benefits.
- Maternity and family coverage: Expats looking to expand their family can customize international health insurance plans to cover prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum care. To review some of the best maternity insurance providers, check out these UAE Maternity Insurance Plans.
- Preventive care: Some plans will offer regular health checkups, screenings, vaccinations, and wellness programs. These resources will help expats keep themselves healthy in their adventures abroad.
Expats with pre-existing conditions may have fewer options when buying international insurance in the UAE, but there are still solutions available. You can choose a plan with a pre-existing condition exclusion, a moratorium, or coverage with loading.
Here is a general overview of what each term means:
- Exclusion: The insurer will not pay or reimburse the policyholder for medical bills related to the condition if they choose to buy a plan from them.
- Moratorium: The insurance company offers health insurance but excludes pre-existing condition coverage. The company then observes the pre-existing condition for a specific time known as the waiting period. This period is usually 24 months, and the insurance company reviews its decision.
- Coverage with loading: Insurance companies may offer coverage for pre-existing conditions, but only with higher premiums. Not all pre-existing conditions are eligible for this kind of coverage, and not all companies offer this option.
Retirees Seeking International Healthcare in Dubai and the UAE
Expats retiring in Dubai should buy an international health insurance plan that offers comprehensive and flexible coverage for their unique needs. This may include coverage for cancer screenings, chronic conditions support, and preventative health benefits.
Reach out to Pacific Prime to hear all our international insurance plans for retirees in the UAE. We can help secure a plan with excellent coverage for your needs, as well as provide access to all the best private facilities.
International health insurance offers expats in Dubai and the UAE a solution for their healthcare needs. With Dubai’s strict health insurance laws, expats will want to ensure they have adequate coverage for their time in the UAE.
Selecting the right health insurance in the UAE can be a difficult task. Fortunately, Pacific Prime provides all the information you need to choose the right health insurance for your time in the area.
Take a look at the different medical insurance solutions we offer on our health insurance page, such as hospitalization insurance and family health insurance, or use our plan comparison tool to compare health insurance in Dubai and the UAE from the top health insurance companies.
If you’d like to talk to someone, our expert advisors are always available to help.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is health insurance required for expats in Dubai?
Health insurance is required for expats to receive a resident visa and is required for the entirety of their stay in Dubai.
2. What happens if you don’t have health insurance while living in Dubai as an expat?
You will be fined if you don’t purchase adequate health insurance during your time in the UAE. This fine can be 500 AED a month.