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Health insurance for medical tourists to be more comprehensive

Dubai: International health tourists can expect some attractive packages during the first Dubai International Health Tourism Forum (DIHTF) being held on February 20-21, said a top official of Dubai Health Authority on Monday.

Dr Laila Al Marzouqi director of the Health Tourism Council at DHA told Gulf News: “we will in the next few days make an announcement regarding this.”

The two-day forum with the theme ‘Reimagining Experience’ is taking place in collaboration with the Global Health Tourism Forum (GHTF) and the World Health Tourism Congress (WHTC) and will focus on the future of health tourism said Dr Al Marzouqi.

Health tourism is very robust in Dubai which has around 3,000 private health facilities ranging from hospitals, specialised clinics to day-surgery centres with around 35,000 health specialists from more than 110 different nationalities working in the sector. These numbers are expected to grow to 40,000 specialists and 4,000 health centres by 2020.

Humaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the Board and Director General of DHA, said: “The DHA is working towards developing a robust medical tourism sector in Dubai. In 2016, Dubai witnessed an overall growth of 9-10 per cent in the number of medical and health tourists in Dubai — the emirate received 326,649 international medical tourists. Revenue generated from international patients was worth more than Dh1 billion, reinforcing the growing contribution of the sector to the national GDP.

“Dubai’s attractive location along with the availability of high quality medical professionals and technology has enabled the city to build a strong and favourable platform to build its medical tourism capabilities. We are constantly working on developing this sector keeping in mind patient safety, high quality health services and excellent patient experience.”

The international health tourist influx for 2017 which was approximately 10 per cent higher than 2106 will be announced at the forum, said Dr Al Marzouqi.

Dr Al Marzouqi added: “The forum will host an exhibition of 30 hospitals, have eight scientific panel discussions, 40 international specialists discussing major areas of concern regarding global health tourism vis-a-vis Dubai.

Medical tourism visa

Health tourists require two kinds of insurance — the travel insurance and the health insurance.

The medical tourism visa and related travel insurance is issued within 48 hours, and it is valid for three months and extendable for three additional months. The health insurance which is meant to oversee any medical complications and emergency medical treatment related to the medical procedure for which the health tourist comes to Dubai, costs Dh150 per person.

The insurance policy is underwritten by Alliance Insurance Company and is backed by Alliance Global and Lloyds of London. It provides cover while in the UAE for a variety of situations, including emergency medical expenses and up to $50,000 (Dh183,500) for each insured individual. Any individual receiving treatment is automatically covered for additional expenses in the event of an unexpected complication stemming from a planned procedure in any facility included in Dubai’s medical tourism programme. The policy is made available at the time of booking an initial appointment, and accompanying family members can buy the protection at the same time.

Dr Al Marzouqi clarified: “ This health insurance at the moment does not cover the cost of the particular procedure but we are working on making it more comprehensive and inclusive and will make an announcement regarding it soon.”

The concept of medical tourism was first introduced in Dubai in 2014 and international benchmarks were set. Its scope has now been expanded by renaming it “health tourism “ to cover not just sickness but wellness areas such as yoga, spa, detoxification and other general health issues.

The top five medical tourism areas in 2016 were orthopaedics, fertility, cosmetics, dental and dermatological treatments, added Dr Al Marzouqi.

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