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New Abu Dhabi health insurance plan a ‘changing point’ in reducing business costs

Abu Dhabi’s new flexible health insurance plan will further reduce the cost of doing business and help in attracting more companies and start-ups to set up operations in the emirate, according to a senior official.

The new insurance policy was unveiled in February and anyone earning more than Dh5,000 ($1,361) a month is eligible to take advantage of the new scheme.

The basic plan costs Dh750 (Dh204) a year with a cover limit of up to Dh150,000. It can be further upgraded as per the individual’s treatment needs.

“This will be a changing point in decreasing the cost of operating a business in Abu Dhabi,” said Hala Al Ameri, executive director of the Competitiveness Office of Abu Dhabi at the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added).

“It will affect not only the small entrepreneurs or start-ups but also their families,” she told TheNational in an exclusive interview.

The new insurance also permits the policyholder to upgrade the plan to include geographical cover and co-payment options, among others.

“We found out with a lot of discussions with the private sector that the cost of health insurance is a big burden of the cost of living in Abu Dhabi … we identified [it] as a gap and did a deep dive on the policies of health insurance comparing it with different cities in the region [to understand] why it’s more expensive in Abu Dhabi,” Ms Al Ameri said.

“We created a task force with the Department of Health to look into different solutions, improve the policies, what initiatives we can put in place and we designed the flexible health insurance to address the market needs.”

The latest initiative comes as Abu Dhabi continues to focus on lowering the cost of doing business and attracting more investors to set up their businesses in the emirate.

Last year, Abu Dhabi removed more than 20,000 requirements once deemed critical to establishing a business in the emirate.

The government also slashed business set-up fees by 94 per cent to strengthen the emirate’s position as a destination for new ventures and boost the inflow of foreign direct investment.

Abu Dhabi's economy grew by 10.5 per cent on an annual basis in the first nine months of 2022. Photo: ADX

Abu Dhabi’s economy grew by 10.5 per cent on an annual basis in the first nine months of 2022, the fastest expansion in the Mena region, driven by strong growth in the non-oil sector, the Abu Dhabi Media Office said last month, citing the latest data released by the Statistics Center Abu Dhabi.

The non-oil sector grew by 10.3 per cent annually during the period, driven by government efforts to diversify the economy, boost the private sector’s contribution and invest in human capital, it said.

In June, the emirate launched a new industrial strategy to boost the contribution of the sector to the overall economy. As part of the strategy, it is investing Dh10 billion across six industrial programs to more than double the size of the emirate’s manufacturing sector to Dh172 billion by 2031.

The move is part of efforts to strengthen the emirate’s position as the region’s most competitive industrial centre.

“We are trying to attract businesses in different economic sectors, from food security to AI and other technology-driven businesses. Even within the industrial strategy, we are looking at more smart manufacturing and advanced technologies,” Ms Al Ameri said.

In addition, the department “supports patents by providing financial and technical support … to be able to grow their ideas into real commercialized businesses”, she added.

Companies or individuals wishing to subscribe to the new flexible health insurance policy must contact insurance providers for more details and apply for the new policy if the conditions are met, according to Added.

All certified health insurance companies in Abu Dhabi can now issue a new policy, it said.

Updated: April 03, 2023, 12:18 PM