Expatriates are entitled to free state medical care, but must obtain a Health Card. Application forms for the health card are available from the Ministry of Health and from some clinics. The completed form should be returned to the Ministry of Health, along with two passport photographs, a letter confirming your employment and two copies of your passport.
You will be expected to undergo a full medical examination to confirm that you are in good health. Patients suffering from HIV or AIDS will not be granted a Health Card.
There are many foreign doctors working in Dubai and your embassy should be able to provide you with a list of GPs from your home country who are practising locally. All doctors must have their qualifications verified and approved by the Ministry of Health before they can begin work in the region.
Standards are high, with short waiting times, and even if you do not have private medical cover you are likely to receive excellent service from the public sector. Doctors advertise their surgeries in the Yellow Pages and local newspapers, although probably the best way to select a doctor is to talk to other expats and get their recommendations.
The majority of GPs work in clinics and you will usually need to make an appointment, although those with private medical cover may be able to see a doctor immediately. When attending an appointment with a private doctor you will be expected to make payment on the spot and will be given a receipt for the fees to enable you to claim the money back from your insurer.
Opening times vary of clinics and surgeries vary, but will commonly be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. You will not normally need to wait longer than 72 hours for an appointment to see a doctor and in the event of an emergency or serious illness, you will be seen very quickly.
Hospitals and large clinics are open 24 hours a day in Dubai and there are few problems with overcrowding or long waiting lists.
The three state-run hospitals in Dubai are:
There are a number of private hospitals, some of which offer impressive levels of luxury. Even the private hospitals sometimes offer Accident and Emergency services or outpatient services. Private hospitals will provide added amenities like private rooms with televisions and areas where family members can stay with the patient. The cost of treatment at private hospitals is usually directly related to the level of luxury provided by the establishment. If you have private medical cover, check with your insurance company whether there are any restrictions on which hospitals you are permitted to use.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Dubai is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in United Arab Emirates. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
EasyExpat.com works in partnership with APRIL International to provide specific insurance solutions for travelling or staying outside your country of nationality.
Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in United Arab Emirates: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.
For more information on expat health insurance in the United Arab Emirates, visit our partner APRIL International