With one of the highest plastic surgeon-to-person ratios in the world, it goes without saying that such procedures are extremely popular in the UAE.
The latest statistics for the UAE to be released by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery showed that 1.27 million liposuction and 3.18 million botox procedures took place here in 2011 alone. And according to an article in The National last year, USA has one plastic surgeon for every 50,000 people and Brazil has one for every 44,000. The UAE, by comparison, has one cosmetic surgeon for every 18,000 people.Cosmetic procedures are, however, notoriously expensive.
Insurance companies generally do not cover cosmetic surgery
“Basically the answer is [none], unfortunately,” says Luke Hickey, of Pacific Prime, an insurance advisor which is a partner of Medstar Insurance Brokers in the UAE and works with around 30 insurers here.
“As a general rule we say anything that is cosmetic isn’t covered but anything that can be proven to be medically necessary, then that’s when it might be covered.”
Cosmetic procedures are considered a standard exclusion of insurers in the UAE. However, the wording differs depending on the company in question.
Thiqa, which provides insurance for UAE nationals, states that health services and associated expenses for cosmetic procedures are not covered, nor are elective plastic surgeries that are not medically prescribed as treatment. RSA’s plans exclude “cosmetic treatment, and any consequence thereof,” which could technically include complications, including hospitalization or injury, caused by procedures. AXA’s plans say any treatment which may be considered a matter of personal choice, including cosmetic treatment, are excluded.
Why do insurers not cover plastic surgery?
Simply put, insurance companies do not cover elective procedures. They can cover you for unforeseen medical treatment and operations, but that does not include willingly going under the knife to beautify oneself. In cases where you have plastic surgery and something goes wrong, provided you are able to prove malpractice, your doctor’s insurance policy may cover corrective surgery.
If you are taking into consideration cosmetic surgery when selecting a health insurance policy, watch out for the term ‘medically necessary’. “If it can be proven to be medically necessary, there are occasionally ways around it,” says Mr Hickey. That is, however, highly unlikely if the policy explicitly excludes all types of cosmetic treatment.