Thursday, November 17, 2016

No more extensions for health insurance in Dubai, Employers, sponsors will face penalties

Employers and sponsors who have not yet purchased health insurance for their employees and their dependents, respectively, will have to start paying penalties from the end of this year, with no further extensions to be given, a top Dubai Health Authority (DHA) official has said.

Since the roll-out of the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) mandatory health insurance scheme, which is in line with the Health Insurance Law No. 11 of 2013, all Dubai visa holders must have had access to medical insurance by June 30, 2016, but 12 per cent of the population have still not been covered, said Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, Director of Health Funding at DHA

“There will be no more extensions given as the deadline was actually in June 2016. Those who haven’t purchased a health insurance for their employees and dependents are in violation of the law. What was extended earlier was only the deadline on penalties, but by the end of this year, the fines will become active,” he said.

Up to date, he said, 88 per cent of the target population in Dubai, almost 3.5 million people, are already benefiting from the mandatory health insurance. “Over the next month, the remaining 12 per cent need to have the insurance or their employees or sponsors will be liable to penalties after that.”

Dr Yousuf was speaking on the sidelines of the 3rd annual health insurance congress held in Dubai on Thursday, which was held under the theme of ‘Innovation and Sustainability’ and which addressed the tremendous opportunities as well as challenges that await Dubai ahead of the final systemic implementation of the mandatory health insurance.

“People need to start thinking [in the right way], because the fines are more expensive than the cost of insurance itself. The fine is Dh500 per month per employer, and the basic benefit package starts from Dh550 person per year. It makes more sense to purchase that insurance as it protects not only the employee but also the employer,” Dr Yousuf said.

The law mandates health insurance for everyone, the responsibility for providing the insurance lays with the employers first, and for those who don’t have employers, it lays with the sponsor. The law also mandates tools that ensure people do get the health insurance, so it became linked to the residency visa process. The law also prohibits the employer or sponsor from deducting the amount of premium money from the salary of the employee. It is illegal by law and punishable, he explained.

Speaking further about the ‘dependents’ category, making up one million of the population, which includes spouses, children and domestic workers such as houseboys, maids and nannies, he said it is the responsibility of the employee himself if his employer doesn’t provide insurance to his dependents to purchase insurance for them. Only less than 30 per cent of dependents of employees are currently covered by companies.

“The government has ensured that there are affordable packages in the market, starting from Dh600. With around Dh2,000, the dependents can all be insured. It is an affordable amount. The essential benefit plan covers doctors’ visits, referral to specialists, surgical operations, maternity, emergency services, investigations, medication and all benefits required.”

There have been lots of cases where uninsured dependents have fallen sick and required to pay huge bills, he said.

“We have seen many cases where people had a housemaid without a health insurance who suddenly fell sick and her hospital bill went up to Dh60,000, which they had to pay. Recently, we had seen a case with an Emirati family whose housemaid went into the intensive care unit (ICU) and had a very complicated case. Their total bill was Dh165,000 and it was fully covered by insurance. He only paid Dh500 as the deductible,” he said.

The law was designed to make sure the entire system is sustainable and no one party falls short of cash as result of having to pay for health care, he added.

In regards to utilising innovation in the health insurance sector, Dr Yousuf said the DHA has electronic systems that work to ensure people are protected, have access to their health care package and understand how to use it.

“We have specifically designed a complaints portal called iPROMeS, where any person who is not satisfied with the services provided by the insurance company can reach us directly.”

Also, Dr Yousuf advised people to have a look at the packages from all insurance companies licensed by DHA through and choose their best options.

The congress was hosted by Gulf Medical University (GMU), which is owned and run by Thumbay Group, in association with Aafia Medical Billing Services. The event was presided by chief guest Shaikh Mohammad Maktoum Juma Al Maktoum, Chairman of MBM Groups, and attended by industry leaders and policymakers representing the government, and health care industry including insurance providers and hospitals.

Dr Yousuf addressed delegates advising them to focus on the dependents category in the market and to appeal to them and provide them with cost-effective packages that deliver good quality of care to people.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sheikh Mohammed issues law on free zones and special development zones in Dubai

In his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, issued Law No. 15 of 2016 on the regulations issued by the authorities of free zones and special development zones in Dubai.

The new Law is applicable to all free zones and special development zones in Dubai, including Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC. Government entities subject to this Law will publish any bylaws or regulations on their official websites and make them available to the public free of charge.

Pursuant to the Law, authorities of free zones and special development zones in Dubai may publish their regulations in Arabic or any other language. The regulations published in any authority’s official website is binding and considered effective within 30 days of the date of publication unless stated otherwise.

All regulations issued by authorities of free zones and special development zones in Dubai prior to Law No. 15 of 2016 remain valid and obligatory and must be communicated by the authorities through their official websites within 30 days of the date of activation of the new Law.

The new Law shall be published in the Official Gazette and is effective from the date of publication.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sheikh Khalifa U.A.E President issued federal bankruptcy law by decree

Sheikh Khalifa, the President, on Monday issued the long-awaited new federal bankruptcy law by decree, according to the state news agency Wam.

The law, which contains elements of bankruptcy protection laws from jurisdictions including France, Germany and the Netherlands, provides, for the first time, a comprehensive legal framework to help distressed companies avoid bankruptcy and liquidation.Under the terms of the federal constitution, the new law will come into effect three months from its publication in the country’s official legal gazette.

A senior official at the Ministry of Finance, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the new law had already been published in the gazette, and would come into effect in late December or early January. A copy of the new law seen by The National dates the law’s approval by the president from September 20.

The new law contains provisions to safeguard the rights of both creditors and debtors in insolvency situations, including measures that prioritise secured creditor rights and enable companies to restructure without unanimous creditor approval.

The law applies to companies established under the commercial company’s law, companies that are partly or fully owned by the federal or the local government, and companies and institutions established in free zones that are not governed by existing bankruptcy provisions. It does not apply to companies registered in the DIFC and the Abu Dhabi Global Market, or to private individuals.

The law will establish the Committee of Financial Restructuring (CFR), a new regulatory body which will oversee the procedures of financial restructuring outside the scope of the courts, have responsibility for the appointment of experts in the field of financial restructuring, and establish and maintain a national electronic database of individuals who have had bankruptcy rulings against them.
UAE Bankruptcy Law

Creditors will be able to initiate insolvency proceedings against companies or traders in cases where debts of Dh100,000 or more are unpaid for more than 30 days.

Insolvent companies will be able to avoid liquidation via four pathways set out in the new law, namely financial reorganisation, a pre-emptive settlement, financial restructuring and the raising of new funds.

The law also contains provisions blocking creditors from applying criminal charges against executive of insolvent companies for bounced cheques, when the company is undergoing a court-mandated restructuring process.

The approval of the new law drew praise from the country’s legal community.

"The law is a very important step for the creation of a healthy, transparent commercial environment in the UAE," said Essam Al Tamimi, senior partner at Al Tamimi and Company.

"In a nutshell it says that companies and traders have to pay what they owe or face consequences, while also giving them options for rescue and restructure where there is a realistic and constructive plan in place."

Mark Beer, chief executive of the DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority, said the approval of the new law was evidence of the efforts and commitment of the leadership of the UAE in ensuring that the country’s laws reflected the needs of a dynamic business environment.

"Working with the DIFC Courts and the Dubai World Tribunal, which also have the benefit of excellent restructuring regimes, I have seen first hand the benefits of a trusted and effective restructuring law in ensuring creditors are paid, jobs are protected and a business has the protection it needs to thrive," Mr Beer told The National.

"May I applaud all those who have worked so hard to bring the new federal law to this stage."