Medical insurance premiums on the rise in UAE
Medical premiums in the United Arab Emirates have risen an average of 25-30 percent over the past four months and continue to do so well into 2001, reported Gulf News. One reason for the rising premium is progressively more expensive medical claims. According to Fareed Qadri, the head of the life department at the Oman Insurance Co (OIC), since the beginning of the year, 72-75 percent of the claims were up at least 25 percent.
Another factor, Qadri told Gulf News, is the growing number of providers of medical services, and a readiness on the part of some to act inappropriately. There are 500 providers in Abu Dhabi alone, Qadri said. A good number are indulging in exaggerated prescriptions, expensive tests and over-treatment.
In fact, experts in the UAE believe that 65-70 percent of our claims involves minor self-treatable conditions. And since it is not possible to reduce the overall cost of medicines, nor consultation fees and specialist diagnostic charges, medical premiums are on a one-way, upward curve.
The general cost of healthcare, adjusted for inflation, is rising 10-15 percent annually. Mustafa Vazayil, executive director at Gargash Insurance Services, said there is need for more competitively priced private hospitals. Such institutions could tie up with medical insurers in an effort to bring down costs.
There are very few insurers writing medical insurance profitably, said Simon Stirzaker, Manama-based regional healthcare manager at Norwich Union, to Gulf News. This is a global phenomenon, but it is particularly acute in the UAE, he said. There are about 20 medical insurers in UAE market, meaning that competitive pressures are high. ¯ (Albawaba-MEBG)
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