Let’s talk about your health insurance. Do you have enough funds to pay for your medical treatment outside the UAE and wait for the provider to pay you back?

Many of us are planning to travel home this summer and knowing whether we need to come up with emergency funds in case of hospitalization is key.  Needing healthcare in other countries is not uncommon, especially in the current COVID environment, and therefore comes the need for Direct Billing.

What is Direct Billing?

Every insurance provider has a list of hospitals and clinics in the UAE (some globally).  This list contains the names of all medical providers that will bill your insurance provider directly.  You can find the network in your policy document.  If you do not have one, request one from your insurance provider.

Sometimes, you may have a small amount to pay depending on whether you have a co-pay model with your insurance provider.

Now hospitals and clinics outside this network are still covered by your insurance policy – of course as long as the service you are requesting is part of your plan.  The difference is that you would have to pay first and then request the insurance provider to reimburse you.

Many residents are not so fond of pay and claim model so stick to the medical centers that are in the network.

Pay and Claim – Why residents are not a big fan?

  • You may find out after paying for your treatment that this particular branch of medicine is not covered and therefore you will not be able to put a claim in
  • The insurance provider may take a very long time to reimburse you
  • If it is a big amount due to a surgery, you may find that you do not have the cash right now to pay for it
  • The process of pay and claim can be quite cumbersome in some cases (some insurance providers are very quick and have a seamless process)

What is a co-pay on your health insurance policy?

When you hear the word co-pay in your policy, this refers to the amount that you will have to pay for all your visits – this could vary but generally around 20-25% of the total amount.

Direct billing globally

Most insurance providers in the UAE have a network of hospitals so you should not have many concerns about finding one that fits your needs.  If you are very fond of a doctor who is out of your current policy, then maybe shop around for another health insurance policy or understand the claim process well and make it become a standard process for you.  An example would be to find out what documents you require to put in a claim and always have them on hand.

However, when we talk about traveling, not all insurance providers allow for direct billing. That is because not all of them have a network outside the UAE.

If you have find yourself in need of medical care and your are overseas, you would need to call and request an approval from the insurance provider on the hospital and the treatment that you are about to have.

Once this is done, you will need to collect all the diagnosis, prescriptions, and IDs and submit a claim to your insurance provider.  In the meantime, you will need to find the cash to pay for the treatment.

[Related: What’s included in mandatory health insurance]

Providers that do provide direct billing globally

We have done some digging and here is a list of providers who do provide direct billing outside the UAE.  You can always request for a health expert to contact you to give you more information.

  • Cigna – Network of hospitals globally except for the US
  • Aetna – Network of hospitals globally except for the US
  • BUPA – Network of hospitals globally except for the US
  • Axa -Network of hospitals globally except for the US
  • Mednet – Network of hospitals across the GCC

What else should I be looking for?

There are other factors to look at when you look at your health insurance policy

  • Co-pay – check how much you need to pay every time you visit a doctor
  • Exclusions – what are the situations or treatments that are excluded in your policy – some sports are often excluded
  • Claim process – if you are using a clinic outside the network, how long does it take to get your money back?
  • Geographical cover – Are there any continents that excluded from the network

You can request a call back through the Souqalmal platform from the providers to get more information on Direct Billing Globally.

Read more:[Check the frequently asked questions on the Souqalmal Platform]