The deadline for every resident in Dubai to have a Dubai Health Authority (“DHA”) compliant health insurance plan is the 30th June 2016. Are you ready? Have you sourced the right health insurance plan for your business and your employees? How much will it cost? What benefits do you need to provide? Have you considered the impact on your HR policies and processes? Will it affect your talent acquisition and retention strategies? These are just some of the many questions employers will need to address now and beyond this deadline.

To clarify, this deadline is applicable to all small-to-medium enterprises, corporates, individuals, dependents and domestic help. The DHA will impose fines for non-compliance. The fines have been set at a minimum of AED 500 and up to a maximum of AED 500,000 for repeat offenders.

View SME insurance plans and get a free quote

How much will it cost your business?

Health insurance plans vary in cost. The types of benefits, geographical coverage and hospital networks included within a plan are the main cost drivers. DHA compliant health insurance plans are available for as little as AED 600 per person. These types of plans may be suitable for some, and totally unsuitable for others. It will all come down to a deep understanding and analysis of your business requirements.

Our advice is simple. Take the time to properly evaluate your business requirements, along with the requirements of your employees. Select a health insurance plan that is aligned to your strategy, business plan and budget. Of course, the cheapest DHA compliant plan will serve the purpose for renewing and applying for new visas. However, with limited pharmaceutical cover, high co-payments or deductibles, and a restricted hospital network (i.e. no cover outside of this network, even in emergencies), means that for the majority of people living and working in Dubai, these plans will not be sufficient. Will your HR department be ready to deal with this potential problem?

[Related: Why SMEs need to take insurance seriously]

Should all employees get the same plan?

The issue here is that although it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide health insurance, the employees may want a more comprehensive health insurance plan. Prior to the introduction of the new DHA regulations an employee was able to buy additional coverage to cover the gap. Under the new regulations, employees are unable to purchase additional coverage.

To bring this to life, if you decide to purchase a AED 600 plan for your business, covering all of your employees, senior managers or valued employees are no longer able to purchase a ‘top-up’ plan to meet their specific needs and requirements. In these situations we recommended that employer’s create different categories for different levels within your company. Employers could offer enhanced health insurance plans to their senior employees. Costs for such enhanced plans vary, and can start from as little as AED 1,200 per person. These plans tend to remove the co-payments or deductibles and benefit limitations, as well as increasing the network to include more regularly visited hospitals.

What are your options?

There are many international providers in Dubai that offer DHA compliant health insurance plans. The high-end international providers offer members the option to get treatment in the top hospitals and also the country of their choice. However, it’s worth checking that the international health insurance plans meets the DHA minimum benefits, and is fully compliant. Just because it’s an international provider does not always mean that their plans are compliant. The policy needs to be based out of Dubai, so if there is a global mandate, you will need to look at Dubai as needing its own health insurance.

There is under two months to go before the deadline and while that means people should start acting now, there is still plenty of time to do a thorough review of the market and consider the overall impact that health insurance will have on your business which, is usually more than just a financial one.

Lifecare have worked with a wide range of companies and employee mix, and have strong relationships with international and local health insurance providers. We love insurance, and are experts in tailoring health insurance plans to suit your needs and requirements.