UAE residents want health expenses covered, HSBC report says

A majority of UAE residents want their employer or the government to pay for their healthcare expenses, according to a report by HSBC.

About 62 per cent of people surveyed in the UAE think that someone else should pay for their personal healthcare, says the Power of Protection report. The global average was 57 per cent.

The report surveyed 11,000 people above 25 years in 12 countries, and about 1,400 in the UAE, including professionals and their dependants, in October and November last year.

In the UAE, among those who think healthcare expenses should be paid for by someone else, 27 per cent said it was their family’s responsibility, 21 per cent said the employer should pay, and 14 per cent said it was the responsibility of the government to shoulder the costs.

The sentiment was higher in developing countries such as China, at 71 per cent, Argentina at 65 per cent and Indonesia at 64 per cent, while those in more mature markets like the US – at 45 per cent – are less likely to exhibit the attitude, according to Gifford Nakajima, the head of wealth development for the UAE and Middle East and North Africa at HSBC Bank Middle East.

Dubai made it mandatory for companies to provide health insurance for employees starting in 2014, while Abu Dhabi implemented the policy in 2006.

But employers are not required to provide health insurance for all of the employees’ dependents, and the mandatory insurance requirements provide a basic level of coverage, which may not protect people in a comprehensive way as health insurance policies might, Mr Nakajima said.

“People need to do their research and speak to a financial adviser to ensure that they and their families are adequately protected,” he said.

UAE residents were also less likely than residents in other countries to buy a life insurance. About 65 per cent of UAE residents believe someone else should provide monetary stability to their families in situation where they were unable to earn. Globally, four out of 10 people said they would buy their own life insurance, according to the HSBC survey.

“Many people believe [life insurance is] too expensive, whereas, in reality, some annual premiums cost approximately as much as your annual car insurance,” Mr Nakajima said.

Life insurance had a penetration rate of 1 per cent in the UAE in 2014, according to the research company Timetric. The penetration rate is behind other countries such as Taiwan, where it was 15.3 per cent, and South Korea, at 9.2 per cent.

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