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10 December 2023

Gym points on UAE health insurance

By Sneha May Francis

Struggling to keep up with your New Year resolution to stay fit? Fret not. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has the perfect solution to keep you motivated.

Clock your time on the treadmill, or any exercise routine, and earn reward points on your health insurance.

Clearly, a win-win for residents.

Under this plan, which will be implemented in March 2016, residents can win reward points based on their exercise plan. “For example, if someone uses the gym three times a week, the data from the gym that is registered in this programme will let us know how healthy the user has been and how many points he should receive,” explained Dr. Haidar Al Yousuf, Director of Health Funding at DHA.

There are fitness tracker apps as well to help record an individual’s health behaviour. “Data from apps that are fitness trackers such as Fitbit and participating outlets will be used to provide insured members with reward points.”

Talking to Emirates24|7, Dr. Yousuf said, the process of linking ‘behavioural modification plan’ to their medical insurance accounts will allow residents to benefit from a healthy lifestyle.

The rewards will include free access to specialised health professionals or services, healthy meal vouchers, gym membership, free subscription to health magazines, etc.

Residents must first log on to Isahd community website (https://community.isahd.ae) and become a member. Isahd is the name of the mandatory health insurance programme in Dubai and it means happiness in Arabic.

“This is an interesting initiative,” said Neeta Joshy, an IT professional. “At least this will encourage a lot of people to exercise. Now, there’ll be no more excuses to skip the gym. It will definitely keep me focused.”

She added that most people link exercise to weight loss. This will hopefully change that mindset. “Exercising isn’t only about losing weight but about staying healthy.”

“I’ve neglected by health, and it’s only when the body aches or breaks down, I decide to mend it. But, this new plan will encourage me to be one step ahead, and will encourage me to stay fit,” added Lakshmy Kumar.

Dr. Yousuf added the initiative “is an excellent tool to foster engagement with community and health insurance system; it is also an extremely effective way to encourage positive behaviour towards good health”.

“I love the idea of being rewarded for a healthier lifestyle. The more you exercise, the more rewards you get – wonderful idea,” said Malavika Varadan, a radio jockey in Dubai, who has been promoting healthy lifestyle through her channel. “But the reverse is a little worrying. As long as not going to the gym on a certain day does not mean I will be penalised with a more expensive insurance payout. Because that leaves the question of where does that leave people with health issues, disabilities and unforgiving work schedules?

“To add further to that, I would like to be able to choose my rewards. If spa vouchers mean more to me that health magazine subscriptions – I should be able to choose my rewards.”
Gerald Du, a fitness enthusiast and media professional in Dubai, added, “I’m all up for it. People will work out more because it’s a good incentive.”