Comparing Low Cost Health Insurance in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Health insurance in Abu Dhabi became compulsory in 2005. Although it was not enforced initially, Law No. 23 of 2005 made it mandatory for all employers in the emirate to provide medical insurance coverage for their employees and their dependents. In 2009, the Health Authority in Abu Dhabi (HAAD) finally started enforcing the Abu Dhabi Health Insurance Law.

The Basic Health Insurance Policy was created for employees with low salaries in order to provide a cost-effective solution for employers. Until today, the product is exclusively offered by Daman, and is subsidized by the Abu Dhabi Government.

Fast forward to 2014, and the Dubai Health Authority rolled out its long-awaited Health Insurance Law (also known as ISAHD), making it mandatory for all residents of Dubai to be insured. Phase 2 of the roll-out plan will be completed by the end of July 2015, when all companies with 100 to 999 employees will be required to provide coverage for their staff. By the end of July 2016, every resident, including dependents and domestic workers, will need to have medical insurance as well.

Similar to HAAD requirements, a cost-effective solution for low-salaried employees is available from insurance companies in Dubai. Unlike Abu Dhabi however, the basic medical policy in Dubai, known as the Essential Benefits Plan, is provided by several insurers.

So how do the two health insurance plans compare? Here is a look at the government-mandated policies offered in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for low-salaried employees:


Basic Plan

Essential Benefits Plan


Health Authority in Abu Dhabi (HAAD)

Dubai Health Authority (DHA)

Insurance Providers


Axa, MetLIfe, Daman, Oman Insurance, Orient Insurance, RAK Insurance, Takaful Emarat

Salary Eligibility

Up to AED 5,000 monthly salary

(or up to AED 4,000 plus accommodation)

AED 4,000


AED 600

AED 700

Annual Limit

AED 250,000

AED 150,000

Areas of Cover

Restricted to Abu Dhabi with emergency medical treatment available in all emirates

Restricted to Dubai with emergency medical treatment available in all emirates

Pre-existing Conditions

Covered with a 6 month waiting period

Covered with a 6 month waiting period

Hospital Room Type

General room (2 or more beds)

General room (2 or more beds)


AED 20 per consultation

20% co-insurance up to AED 500 (annual cap for the entire year is AED 1,000)


30% co-insurance up to a limit of AED 1,500

30% co-insurance up to a limit of AED 1,500

Child Delivery

Deductible of AED 500 per delivery

10% co-insurance with limit of AED 7,000 for normal delivery and AED 10,000 for medically necessary C-section

Maternity Checkups

AED 20 per consultation

10% co-insurance with a limit of 8 visits to obstetrician


Keep in mind that each of the plans is only available if you have a residency visa issued in the respective emirate and your salary does not exceed the eligibility requirements. While the Abu Dhabi Basic Plan provides better benefits than the Essential Benefits Plan, it must be noted that the Abu Dhabi Government subsidizes the plan. This means that while the policyholder, or their employer, are paying only AED 600 annually for the plan, the insurance company is receiving an additional sum from the Government.  This is the key reason the plan provides better benefits at a lower cost when compared to Dubai‚Äôs minimum benefits package. 

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