Compulsory medical insurance in Abu Dhabi is proving a boon to health insurance companies and the private medical sector, with more than a 70 per cent increase in the number of patients seen in the past two years.
Hospitals in Abu Dhabi said business has picked up tremendously after the emirate introduced a mandatory health insurance scheme for all residents in 2006.
Under the law, employers are required to provide health insurance coverage for their expat staff and their families. As a result, private hospitals have claimed as much as a 30 per cent increase in revenue in the past two years.
BR Shetty, CEO and Managing Director of NMC Group of Hospitals, said there has been a considerable increase in spending by individual consumers, as medical care has now become more affordable with the insurance scheme.
“In comparison to 2005, there was an increase of 16 per cent in 2006 and an increase of more than 28 per cent in 2007 for average individual patient spend,” he said.
The increase in patient spending has been gradual. “This is evident by the increase in the credit-cash ratio, as well as overall patient spending. It is presumed credit spending will account for more than 95 per cent of the healthcare business in the coming years,” said Shetty, adding that health insurance has boosted the revenue of the private sector as patients prefer it to public hospitals.
Rassel Qassim, marketing manager of Al Noor Hospital, said there has been more than a 70 per cent increase in patient turnout across the private medical sector. “We have seen 2,000 patients daily this year while it was around 1,000 last year. While the daily average increase in patient turnout stands at 100 per cent, the overall average across the emirate is more than 70 per cent,” he said.
However, hospitals pointed out that there has been an accompanying steep increase in healthcare costs over the past two years. The NMC Group said hospital expenses grew by 50 per cent in 2007, as compared to 22 per cent in 2006. Al Noor Hospital said it faced a 40 per cent increase in running costs in 2007 compared to 2005 figures.
Meanwhile, insurance companies said they are also benefiting from the increased number of customers buying their plans. Hazem Al Madi, senior manager, Health Insurance Department, Oman Insurance Company, said the firm collected more than Dh200,000 from premiums for medical insurance in 2007.