More health insurance woes

Less than half of hospitals will offer primary care.

Under half of the clinics and hospitals originally tipped to offer primary care services under Dubai's mandatory health insurance plan have signed up to the scheme, it has emerged.

A provisional list of healthcare facilities that will act as Out-patient Care Practices (OCPs) under the scheme names 254 clinics and hospitals out of potential 600. The list, published on Dubai Health Authority's (DHA) website last month, is expected to expand by a further 20. All 1.5million Dubai residents will be able to register with these OCPs to attain free basic healthcare, delivered on the back of the mandatory health insurance scheme for employers. This means each of the 850 licensed doctors working at the listed OCPs will have roughly 1,180 registered patients.

A DHA spokesperson said the authority was "pleased" with the sign up figure. Most of the 346 facilities who were not taking part in the scheme, were not doing so because they had been deemed unsuitable to act as OCPs after inspection by the DHA, the spokesperson added. "After refining the definition of eligibility of the clinics that can become an OCP, many of the 600 clinics lost their eligibility, so did not officially have to opt out any longer," he said.

However, some of the eligible clinics said they had chosen not to join the scheme because it was financially unviable for them. "For what they are asking us to do it is not financially rewarded. I am not going to sign up unless they make changes," said Dr Carole Chidiac, medical director of The French Medical Centre in Jumeirah.
"I am busy enough with patients with private insurance," she added.

As yet the DHA has not finalised as to what exactly OCPs will be expected to offer in terms of basic care.

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