Dubai Expats No Longer Entitled to Free Cancer Care

Dubai expats are being told to check their health insurance policies after it was announced that the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will no longer be providing free cancer care and chemotherapy to cancer sufferers.

As of May 2011, all expatriates in Dubai will be charged for the chemotherapy sessions that were previously available free of charge to those living and working in Dubai.

Discussing the new rules, Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman, the director of medical affairs at the DHA and medical director for Dubai Hospital explained that the main reason that expatriates would no longer be eligible for free chemotherapy was due to the expense associated with the care: “The Government has been paying for the cancer treatment of everyone, Emirati and expatriate, for years. But until when?”

“The cost continues to rise because the number of patients is constantly increasing,” he said.

“Why shouldn’t a heart disease patient or a diabetic patient come to us and demand that we pay for his treatment, since we pay for a cancer patient?

“They are all sick and they all need this treatment to survive. What’s the difference?”

He explained that it was the responsibility of employers to ensure that their employees held adequate medical insurance to cover the period during which they worked in Dubai, something that is currently not obligatory in Dubai.

“It is logical to assume that this change in policy by the DHA is to encourage every employer to provide their patient with suitable health insurance so that all healthcare needs are met,” Dr Abdul Rahman said. “Every employer has a responsibility to make sure their employee is insured, and every expat coming to this country should demand insurance from their employer.”

Emiratis will not be affected by the new rule and their treatment will continue as before. However, expatriates who are newly diagnosed will face costs of between Dh100,000 (US$27,226) and Dh200,000, for a six-month treatment plan, depending on the type of cancer and the levels of treatment required.