The laws for medical insurance in the UAE differ for each emirate.

Dubai

The Health Insurance Law of Dubai No 11 of 2013 requires that all Residents must have a level of health insurance that meets or exceeds minimum benefits stipulated by Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

In Dubai employers are legally obligated to provide medical cover for their employees. Article 10 section 2 states that employers must not deduct premiums or reduce the salary of the employee to mitigate the cost of insurance cover.

The law also states that all dependents (this includes spouse and children) and domestic workers (including maids, cooks, drivers) of the employee must also be covered for basic health insurance. This basic health insurance is called the Essential benefits plan (EBP).

Employers are under no legal obligation to provide cover to dependants of their employee (although they are encouraged to do so), and the responsibility lies with the visa sponsor.

The law was rolled out in phases (depending upon the size of the company) which came into effect in January 2014.

Phase 1
Companies with 1,000 or more employees had a deadline of October 31st 2014

Phase 2
Companies with 100-999 employees had a deadline of July 31st 2015

Phase 3
Companies with 100 or less employees and every resident, domestic worker and dependents of employees initially had a deadline of June 30 2016, however this was later extended twice to December 31 2016 and then later again until March 31 2017.

Fines
The DHA has stated that fines will be imposed on sponsors and employers who fail to comply with the regulation. Fines of AED 500 will be issued for each month of non-compliance and no new visas will be granted, and existing visas will not be renewed. Fines will be paid during the renewal or cancellation of residence visas.

For Emiratis, their medical insurance is covered by the Government sponsored scheme that is set out by the DHA. Nationals who work in the private sector have the option of opting into their employers health insurance policy or to join the National Government scheme.

Abu Dhabi

The Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), is the regulator of the healthcare sector in Abu Dhabi.

Emiratis in Abu Dhabi are covered under the Thiqa Scheme.

Employers are legally obligated to provide medical cover for their employees and their dependants. Dependants include a spouse and up to 3 children under the age of 18, and the employer is only required to pay 50% of the cost for dependants, with the remaining 50% payable by the sponsor/employee. If the employee has other dependants such as parents or a 4th child, then they are legally obligated to fully bear the cost of this themselves.

The minimum level of health insurance cover for expats is set out in the Abu Dhabi Basic Plan which is provided by The National Health Insurance Company (Daman).

Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain

The Ministry of Health oversees the healthcare regulation in the UAE for Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain, Sharjah and Fujairah. However, some Emirates have also incorporated their own healthcare institutions.

In these Emirates employers are not required by law to provide cover to employees or their dependants.

In Sharjah employees and their dependants who work for their Government are provided with healthcare cover.