Health insurance for nationals unveiled

A health insurance scheme and mandatory screening programme for UAE nationals has been launched by the Abu Dhabi Government in partnership with Daman and the Abu Dhabi Company for Health Services (Seha).

The introduction of the Health Insurance Scheme for Nationals (Thiqa) will see existing government health cards replaced with new cards issued by Daman, the emirate's national health insurance company.

It will be mandatory for nationals to undergo periodic medical examinations called Waqaya – meaning prevention in English – before applying for a Thiqa card. Daman will act as third-party administrator of the insurance scheme and Seha will carry out the health screenings.

Daman CEO Dr Michael Bitzer told Emirates Business that 80,000 applicants had already inquired about Thiqa and he expected 350,000 nationals to enrol. The new scheme will make Daman the largest health insurance company in a single country in the region. It already has more than a million members.

"It is a gift from the government to its people," said Dr Bitzer. "There is no premium and it is a more comprehensive and generous scheme than normal health insurance policies. We will act as the third-party administrator and will pay claims to service providers on behalf of the government. The finance department will meet all the expenses. Daman will receive an administration fee."

Enrolment is under way and will continue until all nationals have joined. The new health cards will be activated in June.

Dr Ahmad Mubarak Al Mazroui, Chairman of the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi, said the scheme would cover all UAE nationals in the emirate plus family members who were not nationals. "All nationals and their family members are required to undergo the mandatory health screening at Seha primary healthcare facilities before applying for a Thiqa card. Card holders will be able to choose between private and public health service providers. The scheme will provide treatment abroad."

Dr Al Mazroui said Daman had been appointed the exclusive firm for the scheme but the involvement of more firms could not be ruled out.