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GAHS health insurance offered to visitors also

ABU DHABI - Dec. 29 Expatriates on visit visa have the option to join the health insurance scheme since day one of entering the country, said a senior health official.

As per the law, the mandatory health insurance project, to be enforced on January 1, 2007, stipulates that it is compulsory for visitors on more than two-month visit visa to purchase health insurance policy.

“Visitors will have the choice to insure themselves whenever they are in the country,” said Ibrahim Al Mousa, Executive Director of Finance at General Authority for Health Services for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (GAHS).

“Opting for insurance is optional for visitors. We don't want to create a financial burden on visitors who intend to stay here for a short time and might not need the service,” clarified Mousa.

The health insurance policy follows a ministerial decree that aims at alleviating the suffering of expatriates due to exorbitant medical expenses.

The first phase of the project was enforced on July 1, 2006 and included companies with more than 1,000 employees.

The second phase of the scheme will be officially enforced on January 1, 2007 for all expatriates residing and working in the capital.

Under the law, employers must provide health insurance coverage to all their expatriate employees and their dependants, including wife and three children below 18 years, Mousa said.

If an employee has more than three children, he will be responsible for insuring newborn babies.

“However, the employer must insure the employees' newborn babies from the first day of birth if he has less than three children," the official stressed.

He said that to include the newborn babies in the insurance cover, parents must inform their employers within 15 days of the date of birth, and the employers must notify the health insurance providers within 30 days of the child's birth.

Mousa further informed that if the infant required medical attention between the time of birth and obtaining of the health insurance coverage, certain rules have to be followed.

Medical service expenses incurred within the period of the mother's hospitalisation are to be covered by the woman's health insurance policy, he said.

If the infant requires medical attention within 30 days (the set notification period) of the birth and before receipt of the health insurance policy, the sponsor's health insurance provider must cover the expenses incurred whether it has been notified of the birth or not.

If the infant requires medical attention after 30 days of the birth, the health insurance provider must cover all the expenses incurred, if it was notified of the birth within 30 days.

Mousa added that if the health insurance company and the employer were both not informed within the prescribed time, then the responsibility rested with the sponsor to cover all medical expenses.


Prices fail to dampen spirit of Eid shoppers

DUBAI — Dec. 29 Price hikes have failed to dampen the festive spirit of Eid shoppers in Dubai. With Eid and New Year round the corner, malls and hypermarkets are bursting at the seams as the crowds jostle to finish last-minute shopping.

And to make the hay while the rush is on, major stores have lined up attractive discounts for eager housewives. Not to be left behind, children are seen hobnobbing with the elders to get their wish list fulfilled.

Topping the items on demand are clothes, toys, party items, sweetmeat, bakery and foodstuff.

“It's true that the prices of essential items have leapfrogged but it has hardly affected sales, which has been further boosted by Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), ” says Sunil Bhardwaj, senior vice-president, Property Development and Leasing, Lamcy Plaza.

However, Manoj Doltani, manager at Al Maya Hypermarket, admits there has been a slight slump in sales due to price hike. "But we have special offers to offset any such impact," he retorts.

For Hassaan Mahmood, a Dubai resident, it's 'the' time to spend. "I turn a blind eye to prices during Eid. I save money for occasions like these so that I can fulfil the wish list of my children.”

Laila Mohebi, a UAE national, agrees one cannot compromise on the celebrations for a festival like Eid. "After all, it comes only once a year," she asserts. She has her menu ready: traditional sweets, fruits and mutton among other items. Mohebi also has a formula to cut on the price pinch. "Buy one dress if you wanted to buy two!"

But there are others who may not be as bravehearts. “Howsoever, I would have loved to fulfil my children's wishes, it's becoming virtually impossible to do, thanks to the skyrocketing prices,” says a shopper at Carrefour.

Adds Richa Ghai, a customer at Al Maya Hypermarket: “The special offers are making it easier for us to buy things that we need. In any case, one has to buy essential items. But then, we are cutting down on luxurious goods,” she makes it clear.




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