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Article | Global News Briefs

United Arab Emirates: Employer-paid health insurance to be mandatory nationwide

By Steve Clements | April 24, 2024

Starting in 2025, all private-sector employers throughout the U.A.E. would be required to provide health coverage to their foreign employees in another step toward universal health coverage.
Health and Benefits|Benessere integrato|Ukupne nagrade

Employer Action Code: Monitor

The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) recently announced that, starting in 2025, all private-sector employers will be required to provide their foreign employees with health insurance coverage. Employers in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are already required to provide health insurance coverage for their foreign employees (as well as for dependents in Abu Dhabi); the newly announced measure will extend the mandate to the remaining five emirates. Emirati citizens in Abu Dhabi and Dubai generally have access to comprehensive health insurance paid by the emirate (through the Thiqa program in Abu Dhabi and the Enaya program in Dubai), though they may also participate in employer plans.

Key details

The Cabinet announcement did not contain details of the new mandate (e.g., minimum benefits, eligibility and dependent coverage, whether implementation will be phased in based on employer size [as it was in Abu Dhabi and Dubai], any cost sharing, or rules for insurance companies and brokers). These are expected to be provided in future implementing regulations. Presumably, they will be similar to the existing (but not identical) Abu Dhabi and Dubai provisions, where proof of health insurance coverage is required in order for foreign employees to receive or renew an employment visa and work permit.

Employer implications

Extending mandatory health insurance to all emirates would represent a step closer toward universal health coverage and boost the health insurance market, as roughly one-third of the U.A.E. population lives in the five emirates. However, virtually all companies surveyed (96%) already provide supplemental healthcare benefits to their employees and their dependents, typically at no cost to the employee. Employers should monitor this development and evaluate healthcare coverage among their employees outside of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.


Senior Director, Integrated & Global Solutions, CEEMEA

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