A federal mandatory health insurance law in the works hopes to integrate the Dubai and Abu Dhabi systems under one scheme, once all systems are in place.
Abu Dhabi introduced a mandatory health insurance scheme for all of its residents last year, while Dubai is working on its own scheme for the emirate and the Ministry of Health for the northern emirates. Health insurance providers in the UAE have previously expressed their worries that having three insurance systems would create confusion.
The aim now is to put all insurance schemes under one protocol, common rule and regulation, but the how and when is not agreed yet.
Under the draft federal insurance scheme, insurance coverage would be provided to expatriates first. Employers would have to bear the cost of premium for the expatriate employee.
UAE nationals will remain under the old health card system. When the health insurance system kicks in for nationals at a later stage, the premium will be covered by the government.
The federal scheme will be based on international health insurance standards as well as the Abu Dhabi experience.
The health insurance schemes are designed to replace the health card system in place in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the northern emirates.
It is not yet clear on whether or not expatriates will have to have insurance from a state insurer, from a range of authorised insurers, or just prove they have cover.
For the time being, it would be foolhardy for any expatriate not to have his or her own insurance in place.