The Why and How of Health Insurance for Senior Expat Residents

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Retirement, Investor, Property Owner, Dependent – the UAE offers long-term residence visas for Senior Citizens (aged 55 years & above) in all these cases. After a long innings in the region, when a senior citizen of Asian origin opts to reside in the UAE, he may be in a dilemma regarding the utility and cost of the necessary Health Insurance. This is quite understandable, as the cost of insurance in the UAE, while being less than in the Western world, is substantially higher than in the Asian expat’s home country.

The Senior Expat resident is highly likely to need some form of emergency treatment considering pandemic related complications, higher likelihood of medical intervention for cardiac situations, injuries, and age related issues. Stabilisation before travel to one’s home country could require several weeks of expensive in-patient care. Pre-existing conditions viz; diabetes, hypertension, etc. increase this likelihood.

An option often exercised is the purchase of a good Health policy in the home country – with the intention of going home for any significant medical treatment. This, however, works only in cases of Elective treatment – not in Emergency situations. Furthermore, health policies purchased in the home country cover only domestic treatment – not overseas ones. On the contrary, almost all policies issued by reputed insurers in the UAE cover treatment locally and in the home country (typically India, Pakistan, Philippines, SriLanka, Bangladesh, Nepal as well as many Levant countries viz; Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, etc.)

When the need arises, a policy issued in the UAE scores higher than one issued in the expat’s home country – as it can settle directly with local health providers and reimburse the costs of the expat incurred in his home country. Thus, a senior resident is well advised to purchase a health policy. In case of need, one issued by a UAE based insurer is more likely to meet the needs, both here and abroad. The question remains what level of insurance and at what cost?

While the standard limit recommended for a senior citizen with pre-existing conditions could be anywhere between AED 150,000 and AED 300,000, policy limits of AED 250K are typically seen in the region, with sub limits up to AED 100k or AED 150k for pre-existing conditions.

The cost of insurance is based on three factors – age band, pre-existing conditions and level of medical service providers chosen. The first two are well addressed by the individual himself, taking care to declare pre-existing conditions fully – as failure to do so could seriously jeopardize the effectiveness of the policy in case of claims.
When it comes to choice of health provider levels and band, external assistance in the form of broker advice proves useful. Broker involvement also helps in making and realising claims if and when they arise.

Senior citizens may find it prudent to first peruse the list of preferred clinics and hospitals in consultation with their brokers, before they select a reasonable network of hospitals and clinics, preferably in the Restricted Network category (RN1 or RN2).

Perhaps another cue to keep the premiums lower would be to agree on a “deductible” which is affordable and reasonable for outpatient visit, Lab-investigations and pharmacy. While it’s not easy to predict actual premiums, a typical range premium for a senior citizen could be between AED 15k and AED 25k.

Therefore it’s always prudent to buy personal health insurance in the UAE through a mid level local broker whose services can come in handy at the time of claims settlement. To sum up, yes a policy is needed, one issued in the UAE, purchased with the assistance of a reputed Health Insurance Broker (rather than directly on-line) with clear and complete declarations.

The author Mr. LSH Nair, is an experienced Consultant & Advisor for Insurance procurements & placements in the UAE, whose services are available . Refer for details.