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Cheap Medical Insurance in the UAE – Is it Worth It?

Written by Sahar

Cheap medical insurance – fact or myth? Worth the effort, or a waste of time? We discuss in our health insurance blog.

Health insurance is mandatory in two of the Emirates. If you reside in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, you have to buy health insurance in accordance with the law. This can be a little tricky if you’re already managing mandatory vehicle insurance in your monthly budget. So, cheap medical insurance seems like the only way to go. But won’t quality suffer? Let’s find out.

The Case for Health Insurance

Despite its necessity, health insurance is only mandatory in two Emirates. The others don’t deem it an offence by law if you don’t have medical insurance. So, should we just go without?

Of course not.

The UAE has one of the world’s finest medical infrastructure and healthcare. It attracts thousands of patients per-year in what has been coined as “medical-tourism.” With state-of-the-art medical services come staggering costs to keep them that way. Medical bills can start mounting in the blink of an eye and if you have a chronic illness they can really eat up through your savings.

Essentially, if you don’t have insurance be ready to pay out of pocket when you get sick. It might seem like a better alternative to paying monthly premiums but one medical crisis can have you looking at an empty savings account.

Therefore, it is advisable to have some form of medical insurance even if it is the most basic. But where can one find cheap insurance policies?

Cheap Medical Insurance Options

Because of its essential nature, many people are on the lookout for cheap medical insurance. Unfortunately, there are very few options. However, that does not mean that it’s impossible. We’ve listed a few ways you can get cheap medical insurance in the UAE.

Essential Health Benefits

The cheapest medical insurance available in the UAE market is the Essential Health Benefits (EHB). It covers the basics, such as GP visits, emergency procedures, essential surgery etc. It is the lowest level of personal medical coverage available.

Because it is brass-tacks it isn’t very expensive. Additionally, the coverage is basic, and won’t cover some the more expensive procedures and medical tests.

However, if you’re working for an employer that provides medical insurance you shouldn’t have to buy personal medical insurance. Though, to be realistic, this is only the case if your employer is providing the best family medical insurance. Not all employers are as generous. Many residents have had to buy personal medical insurance to support the work medical insurance which doesn’t cover their dependents or families.


Another way to get cheap medical insurance is deductibles. This essentially means that you pay a certain amount of the medical bills before insurance kicks in. This amount is fixed per anum. For example, let’s say your deductible is fixed at Dh2000. Your insurance will only start paying towards your medical bills after you’ve paid Dh2000 in medical bills.

Once you’re deductible has been paid insurance kicks in. This is one way of reducing your premiums. This way you can opt for a more extensive medical coverage. By setting a deductible you can reduce the premium. It’s a case of having your cake and eating it too.


One way of reducing medical insurance costs is by choosing a co-pay system. At a glance, it might look very similar to deductibles. It is not. Where deductibles are fixed annual payments, co-pay is flexible. Deductibles are a set amount, co-pay is a percentage of all payments.

Let us explain some more. Say you have a co-pay percentage of 15%. Every time you get a medical bill you will be required to pay 15% of the amount out o pocket. The other 85% will be taken care of by the insurance provider. Co-pay does not end when a ceiling of payment is met. It is active throughout the term of the insurance policy.

Co-pay makes sense for cheap medical insurance if your bills are to a minimum. If you have no health issues, very rarely go to the doctor, and don’t see that changing any time soon, co-pay can reduce your premium significantly.

Is Cheap Medical Insurance Worth It?

The main concern with cheap medical insurance is the quality you can expect. It is a legitimate concern. No one wants to opt for something cheaper only to end up uninsured for something essential.

However, cheap medical insurance does not mean that hospitals will cut corners in their services. Network hospitals will still provide you with the best service. They will inform you about what is covered, and what isn’t. Only after your go-ahead will they continue with any procedures. This gives you time to calculate whether you can pay out-of-pocket. It also gives you an opportunity to discuss if a procedure is necessary or not. In many cases where everything is covered, hospitals have been known to schedule unnecessary tests and procedures. So, cheap medical insurance can save you from a lot of unneeded procedures.

At the end of the day, you need to decide whether it is worth it or not. The choice needs to be yours.

Where to Buy Cheap Medical Insurance

So, where can one buy cheap medical insurance in the UAE? The answer is simple. Online! You can hop on to any insurance comparison website and find a policy. Why insurance comparison sites? Why not go to the providers themselves? Because you need an independent body with no stake in the insurance provider. We don’t trust product reviews on the company website. So, why trust insurance providers to give us unbiased reviews?

Independent insurance comparison websites give you a full picture. They show you the good and bad. You can sift through specifications to get the policy you need. It is easy to review policies as well as buy them online. Policies are issued within 60 minutes through this process. You are covered within the hour.

So, there you have it. Cheap medical insurance is not an impossibility. Yet, it is essential for individuals who are still mulling over getting medical insurance. Take the cheap medical insurance rout. See if it works for you. Try it out. Then decide if it is something you can live without or not.

Read More:

Understanding the Importance of Health Insurance in the UAE

Checklist for Medical Reimbursement

Understanding Maternity Insurance in the UAE: A Complete Overview

Originally published Feb 25, 2020 16:13:19 PM, updated May 08, 2024

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