Before you visit a hospital, you should know the specifics of your health insurance coverage. Some schemes will require you to pay up front and then claim back the expenses. Others will cover costs directly. It is customary for the hospital to check with the insurance company to make sure that you are covered for the specific treatment you require.
In case of an emergency, you can visit one of the 24-hour emergency facilities at any of the major hospitals (see the list under Main Facilities and Practitioners in this section). When you arrive, you will have to register if this is a first visit and provide a proof of identification, such as your passport. In actual fact, if the case is a real emergency, you will probably be allowed to bring your ID in at a later date. You must provide details of your insurance coverage or agree to pay in cash. You will then be checked out by a nurse and your name put on the waiting list to be seen by the emergency doctor. The length of time you wait will be dependent on the urgency of your situation and the number of other cases. If you require an ambulance, you can phone 999 or contact the hospital you intend to use directly.
For outpatient care, you should make an appointment in advance. If you are late for your appointment, you will be treated as a walk-in patient and you may have to wait for a long time. No penalties occur if you fail to turn up for your appointment. Most clinics will phone you prior to the appointment to confirm that you are still able to attend. If you wish to see a specialist doctor, most insurers require you to provide a referral letter from a general doctor. To do this, you may need to make two appointments. Certain doctors have very long waiting lists. If this is your first visit, you should arrive early for your appointment as you will need to register and be assigned a patient number. You are also legally required to provide a proof of identification, such as a passport copy, when you register with any health care provider.
For inpatient care, the hospital will advise you of the admission procedures. You will typically be required to provide information about your insurance coverage which will be checked out prior to admission. If you are paying up front and claiming back from your insurer, you will be required to make a deposit of several thousand dirhams. Some employers are prepared to help out in this regard by sending the hospital a letter guaranteeing the cost of the treatment. The hospital will need to arrange for your room and, in the case of surgery, arrange for a pre-anaesthetic consultation and blood samples to be taken. They will also need to book a theater for you in consultation with your surgeon. Before you are discharged, you will be required to complete all the paper work, including any payments. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled as appropriate.