If you fall in the 2 percent of Dubai’s population who don’t have health insurance yet, here’s some good news. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) recently extended the deadline for its compulsory health insurance scheme till the 31st of March 2017. This buys you more time to understand the minimum level of cover as per the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP), explore the health insurance market and choose the right package.

We have compiled everything you need to know about the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP) right here.

Who’s eligible to apply?

The EBP is a health insurance plan meant for Dubai residents who earn a salary of less than AED 4,000 a month. To make sure all categories of residents are covered under health insurance, the EBP by Dubai Health Authority is essentially aimed at helping the lower salary band of employees including laborers, house help, blue collar workers as well as family members and dependents afford health insurance. All others with salaries of AED 4000 and above are free to choose the level of insurance coverage as long as they meet the minimum level stipulated by the EBP.

What does it cover?

• The Essential Benefits Plan covers healthcare services such as outpatient/inpatient treatments, emergencies, medical tests, surgeries, medication, maternity and more.
• Under the EBP, employees can avail emergency healthcare services within all emirates in the UAE and basic healthcare services within Dubai (and other geographic locations at the discretion of the insurer.)
• The maximum annual coverage offered by EBP is capped at AED 150,000.
• Co-payment or the amount that needs to be paid by the patient is set at 20% and capped at AED 1,000 per year.
• Drugs and other medicines are capped at AED 1,500 with a co-payment set at 30% payable by the insured for each and every prescription.
• Existing and chronic conditions are only covered after the first six months of the plan.
• Maternity benefits include eight outpatient maternity visits and inpatient maternity, covered up to AED 7,000 for normal delivery and AED 10,000 for complications in childbirth. There is a 10% co-payment payable by the insured for both outpatient and inpatient maternity services.

[Related: Maternity cover: Questions to ask before you choose your health insurance]

How much does it cost?

The annual cost of basic health insurance under the Essential Benefit Plan ranges from AED 550 to AED 650, which makes it an affordable scheme for residents to safeguard themselves against potential health risks. Premiums will increase with every additional cover you add on to the plan. EBP packages for the elderly start at AED 2,500 per year.

Which insurance companies are authorized to offer it?

As authorized by the DHA, the number of insurance companies that can provide the EBP stands at 12. This includes three new additions that were made only last week. The list includes:
1. Axa Gulf Insurance
2. Dar Al Takaful
3. Takaful Emarat
4. Orient Insurance
5. Daman health Insurance
6. Oman Health Insurance
7. Metlife Insurance
8. Ras Al Khaimah Insurance
9. Noor Takaful
10. National Insurance Company
11. Union National Insurance
12. Abu Dhabi National Insurance

[Related: Why you need dental insurance]