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Health Insurance Opportunities Continue to Improve in Dubai

Posted on Dec 06, 2012 by Sergio Ulloa ()

One of the signs that Dubai is continuing to show recovery after the 2008 Financial Crisis is through the growing health insurance industry. Many of the leading health insurance providers in the region  are all reporting increasing numbers of insurance quotes and information requests from people interested in obtaining medical insurance. Globalsurance continues to expand its services and operations in the region, attributing the influx to more and more inquiries from new clients and expatriates that are relocating to Dubai. Tim Slee, Global Sales Director for Bupa International commented on this growth:  "There is an exciting new level of increased activity across the Middle East, this increased interest has led to a strong conversion rate of international medical insurance sales in the UAE." Bupa International has seen encouraging performances and maintains a strong presence in the region because of the diversified products they offer with their cooperation with Globalsurance. Mr. Slee added that Bupa International has expanded its health insurance products so that they now all have 'full medical underwriting'. This option has previously been unavailable for international private medical insurance (iPMI) policies with Bupa International in the UAE but now, coverage for pre-existing conditions will now be possible for policyholders in the region. Another leader in international health insurance, Allianz Worldwide Care, is also witnessing higher levels of interest in the area. To encourage growth in the region, Allianz has expanded their services and recently opened a new office with their sister branch Allianz Saudi Fransi in Qatar. Despite plenty of room for new opportunities, the price of premiums remains a hurdle for expats looking to purchase international Private Medical Insurance plans. Green Crescent Insurance, one of the top insurance providers in the region, reported losses of about US $3.73 million for 2012. Even though GCI has typically offered premiums that are below market rates in the region, particularly in 2011 and 2012, they still experienced a 50-percent market value loss. GCI representatives still aim to provide lower premiums for their customers but are concerned that these may not cover the steady increase in the rise of healthcare costs in the region. As Dubai and other areas in the Middle East become more international and attract more expatriates, analysts believe that demand for international health insurance policies will continue to increase. With this demand, however, may also come high levels of inflation. In addition to Dubai continuing to be a new frontier for providers, the city is also implementing measures to ease insurance issues. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) recently launched the second phase of its electronic claims initiative that focuses on creating a paperless system for healthcare coverage procedures, which now means that all healthcare providers and insurance policies are able to be claimed and processed electronically. The authority tested the first phase of the project back in June, making sure that claims for 100,000 government employees in Dubai were able to be done electronically. Dr. Haider Al Yousuf, director of Health Funding at the DHA, believes that this project is an important part of developing a unified coding and health information system and will also provide real-time health information to facilities and insurance providers to help combat fraud. There are already 1,179 facilities in Dubai that are submitting claims electronically using the portal in a standard coding format. "The portal allows the health funding department to effectively monitor insurance services, reduce abuse, report medical and pharmaceutical errors as well as monitor consumer behavior and thus helps run a highly efficient health insurance industry in line with best international practices," he added. In addition to the new paperless claims project, the DHA will also offer training to medical providers so that they can all use the same coding language, also based on international standards. As Dubai's economy continues to grow and healthcare opportunities improve, analysts believe that this is a region with strong potential in the international health insurance sector and should be watched closely.
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