Health insurance in the United Arab Emirates: businesses will struggle to control costs

Rather than taking a knife for the medical benefits provided in current plans, companies have options to deal with the rising costs associated with health care.
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Dubai: Don’t be fooled by falling healthcare costs during the COVID-19 year – they’re all set to rise again. In fact, the cost of accessing medical treatment could be up to three times the general inflation rate, according to global insurance brokerage firm Marsh.

It will also come at a considerable cost to businesses in the UAE, when it comes to providing mandatory or employee health coverage. According to Marsh’s estimates, the soaring costs stem from “the cancellation of many elective procedures and a decline in preventive / emergency treatment has resulted in worsening health conditions both in the immediate and long term.”

Thus, all medical expenses – not related to COVID-19 – that did not occur in 2020 have only been postponed, not completely canceled. Many companies have jostled their workforce, letting go during the pandemic phase. And when the time came for insurance renewals, they cut back on several medical benefits that employees had access to in their previous plans.

All in the name of lowering their costs – “Companies are urgently looking for ways to save money and improve the effectiveness of their health-related plans,” a statement from Marsh said.

According to the company, there are three ways businesses can lower their insurance bills while still providing their employees with an optimal level of health care coverage.

A bad plan

Misdiagnoses, complications and nosocomial infections can be a “consequence of poor initial care” and increase costs and degrade the patient experience. “Employers have to pay for medical losses, disabilities and absences, and employees are worse off, with some experiencing reduced quality or even reduced life,” says Marsh.

“Companies should consider introducing cost-sharing techniques such as deductibles and user fees; ideally prioritized to promote cost-effective care. Implementing defined contribution approaches allows costs to be shared with employees while increasing choice.

Likewise, employers should consider pre-authorization for specialist visits or pre-approval and payment to providers for treatment packages as an alternative to a la carte approach to ensure they are incentivized. to manage complications. “

Data-driven

Circulatory, gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders are largely linked to lifestyle choices and continue to determine the cost and frequency of claims. “Understanding the risk profile of your employees and their dependents – and managing them through data-driven initiatives – will have a significant long-term impact on costs,” says Marsh.

“Businesses are encouraged to consider embracing health promotion where possible, establishing a culture of health, which includes vaccinations and disease / injury prevention initiatives. Such a proactive approach should seek to provide support to those at risk of illness due to their lifestyle, family history or work environment. “

Additional support for employees with health problems can help fight the progression of the disease.

Eliminate inefficiencies

Companies should seek to eliminate redundant or duplicate benefits by consolidating existing schemes. “Waste management is a critical part of containing costs, as plans can lead to significant friction costs such as administration, profit and risk fees. A “loyalty-based” approach that offers price concessions in exchange for longer contract terms or obtaining competitive prices through volume discounts should be considered, ”adds the brokerage firm.

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