For most UAE residents, getting health insurance is a straightforward process Many of us get coverage through our employer that covers our basic needs and we don’t worry about it anymore. But what if you or a family member has unique needs that are not covered under a basic plan?

In 2009, the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) launched special health insurance plans for residents with special needs and those coming under certain categories.

“Thiqa” is a program that provides health coverage for UAE nationals. It’s an initiative set up by the Government of Abu Dhabi through the National Health Insurance Company or Daman. The program covers a wide range of medical treatments, consultations and equipment for adults and children with special needs.
Similarly, the AOUNAK health card is a service for expatriates or their children with special needs.

Private insurers also provide a number of life and disability insurance plans that cover permanent disability and other critical illnesses.

If you are wondering what kind of health insurance you need and its benefits, you can compare health insurance in UAE.

How is health insurance for special needs different?

Such insurance plans vary quite a bit from purchasing a regular health insurance. The provider conducts an eligibility assessment of your needs. It normally requires you to submit quite a lot of paperwork to prove the nature of your condition. This could range anywhere from a medical report by a qualified and recognized physician to police reports, letters from your workplace and residency documents. For individuals with mental health sickness or for children with special needs, the provider normally requires a letter stamped by the court with the name of the patient and his/her guardian.

It’s also worth checking which hospitals are covered under the special needs health coverage and if this aligns well with your needs. As in the example of Abu Dhabi’s plan, the patient can only get treatment at SEHA approved or government hospitals and clinics in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

[Related: Special needs education: Finding a school in the UAE]

Special considerations for special needs

Your special needs coverage must be specific to your condition, be it specific diseases, disabilities or other characteristics. More often than not, you or your family may require coverage and benefits that are tailored to your condition such as access to certain hospitals, special equipment, prescription drugs, minimum number of visits etc. Make sure that the plan you choose explicitly mentions your needs.

Getting health insurance can often be confusing and involve sorting through a great deal of paperwork, but to have peace of mind that you and your loved ones are protected makes it totally worth it!