Medical Insurance for Expats

Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Jamie Marshall

Minimum Coverage

You have two options for medical insurance in Dubai: a government issued health card or a private insurance health card. You can choose to carry both, but at the minimum you need the government-issued Dubai Health Authority (DHA) card. If your employer has provided health insurance, check the coverage and then decide if you’d also like to get a government card.

From 2014, it has been mandatory for all expatriate workers in Dubai to have a minimum level of medical insurance. The employer covers the cost of this basic minimum coverage. There is a co-payment of 20% for medical services (the insured individual pays 20% of the cost of his or her treatment, up to 1000 Dirhams per year).

The premium for basic DHA coverage is 500 to 700 Dirhams per year (135 to 190 US dollars per year) to provide insurance services up to 150,000 Dirhams per year (40,000 US dollars per year). This is very basic coverage that ensures all people in Dubai receive adequate medical and emergency medical treatment when required.

Coverage for Family Members and Dependents

It is the responsibility of a sponsored employee to ensure that his or her family members and dependents are covered by medical insurance. This means that, although an employer must provide the medical insurance card to the employee, the employee may have to purchase additional coverage so that all family members are covered.

Some employers insure dependents, but others do not. The top-up costs come out of the employee’s paycheck.

How to Get a Health Card from Dubai Health Authority (DHA)

A DHA health card is required for treatment in Dubai Hospital, Rashid Hospital, Latifa Hospital, and all other government clinics and hospitals in Dubai. You can visit one of the DHA Health Centres in order to apply for your health card.

You will need to bring:

  • A copy of your passport and residence visa
  • Your visa application (if you are applying for your visa for the first time)
  • Emirates ID
  • 2 passport photos
  • Your tenancy contract
  • A registration form for application for a new health card


Please note that in order to have your visa processed in Dubai, you’ll need to have two screening tests done: one for tuberculosis (TB) and one for HIV.

Choosing from Private Insurers

Many employers offer private health insurance for their employees, and if you are not satisfied with the coverage offered by the insurance, you can choose to top-up the premium in order to have enhanced coverage for a wider network of clinics and hospitals.

The enhanced coverage options generally don’t require a co-insurance or deductible payment (which tends to be around 20% of the cost of the visit).

Private medical insurers can be found through health insurance brokers like UMD (UAE Medical Insurance), which will help you choose a personal, family, or group insurance plan to suit your needs. Popular private insurers in the UAE include CignaMetLife, Daman, and Oman Insurance.

Some Medical Insurance Inclusions to Look For

Make sure that your medical insurance provides coverage throughout the UAE, in areas outside the Emirate of Dubai. Review your network of providers and ensure that the clinics included are ones that you’d feel comfortable visiting – and suit the needs of your family.

If you go outside your network, most insurers will have you pay the full treatment cost and then claim back 80%.

Childhood vaccinations and some medicines are generally included with basic medical coverage. If you plan to travel or vacation outside Dubai, make sure that you have global or international coverage. This way, even if you have to pay the cost of treatment outside Dubai, you’ll be reimbursed.

Dental and optical coverage are options that you or your employer would have to sign up for. If you plan on delivering in Dubai, you’ll need maternity coverage as well. The more maternity coverage you have, the better chance of finding a private room in one of the more popular expat hospitals in Dubai.

Extras that Come with Enhanced Medical Coverage

Extras that you may like included in your plan include, but are not limited to, LASIK surgery, vitamins, cosmetic procedures, infertility treatment, psychiatric treatment, preventative medical checkups, and alternative medical treatments like homeopathy, acupuncture, and chiropractic treatment.

You’ll also be offered access to 24/7 English speaking call centres when abroad. MetLife offers further protection in the form of a daily income while you are hospitalized.

Emergency Medical Treatment in Dubai

If you need emergency medical treatment in Dubai, then you should call 999. The ambulance can take you to a preferred hospital, or to a government hospital (which will not turn away medical emergencies). After your condition is stabilized, you can be moved to a different hospital, if required.

Using Your Medical Insurance Card in Dubai

If you are using a medical insurance card within your network, then the process will be simple. There will be a reception area upon entering a clinic or hospital, and you’ll be required to complete an application and submit your medical card.

Some treatments need pre-approval, and the clinic can help you with this. Once you’ve received treatment, you’ll receive a printed record of your visit and your prescription. If your insurance requires you to pay a deductible or co-insurance fee, then you’ll pay it at the end of your visit.

Using a doctor or clinic outside your insurance network requires that you pay the associated fee to the clinic and then use a claim form to request reimbursement. Again, this is not a difficult process, as the major insurance companies generally have a claim form that you can download or even submit online.

Don’t forget to save the printout of the doctor’s diagnosis, treatment, and prescription, as these will be needed for your claim.

What Happens If You Don’t Have Medical Insurance in Dubai?

Over the past few years, there have been cases of people without medical insurance who have been left with a huge medical bill after receiving treatment. The hospitals in Dubai generally don’t turn away people who need medical assistance. However, they can hold them in the hospital until such time that the medical bills are paid. For this reason, make sure that you renew your medical insurance each year.

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