Over-diagnosed in Dubai? Healthcare Business is Booming


Cracking knees? You are not alone – many people in the Gulf suffer from problems with their knees, because of lazy lifestyle and extra weight. Naturally, they seek a medical advice and cure for their pains. But when the cure may cost still a little in Dubai, the doctor’s consultation fees are skyrocketing.

The first visit a speciality medical practitioner in Dubai may cost you somewhere between 370 Dhs and 550 Dhs. While some types of insurance and a number of insurance providers offer to take care of the cost partially, others don’t. Insurance providers are also flourishing in Dubai, with the most notable example of all – Nexus. Dental services are particularly a source of financial concerns for most expats. In addition, there are cases when doctors request for additional payments to the standard hospital’s fees, because they are not employed by the hospital, but just practice there for a few hours a week.

So, you may easily end up with a 20 Dhs. anti-inflammatory bottle of tablets, after paying 400 Dhs. for doctor’s consultation and 550 Dhs. for an X-ray. And this could be somewhat acceptable, even if outrageous, if you are not sent to Allied Diagnostic Centre for another 4,500 Dhs. examination. The hint about “a minor operation” is dropped during the first visit to the doctor.

If you feel scared already, take a deep breath! You do not have to do all what the Dubai-based doctor tells you. Moreover, you do not have to do it here, where the healthcare is a booming business, but not simply a human right.

Today, medical frauds of all sizes are known to take place all over the world. Dubai, makes no exception. Patients are often kept in hospitals for too long. In addition, they are sometimes prescribed medication and treatments that are unnecessary. This is not a revolutionary or surprising, but rather a common observation!

Not long ago, Dubai Health Authority’s director Dr Haider Saeed al Yousuf, informed that a new scheme will be introduced in the city. It will investigate the private hospital practices in the United Arab Emirates. He acknowledged the problems with the “over-diagnosing.” Some medical institutions, mostly private, use such practice to get more money from insurance providers.

The degree of the offenses varies. It can include the prescription of pricey procedures and tests, in addition to costly medications.

These frauds greatly affect expats in Dubai. That is because they are required to pay for insurance. This is why it is expected that the measures against these practices will mainly benefit them.

However, medical frauds are not witnessed only in the Middle East region. This practice in also common in many countries all over the world. On a global level, frauds make up 10% of the medical insurance premiums.

The issue is usually more serious in countries where there are many foreign nationals. That is explained with the fact that, when dealing with a medical problems in another country, foreigners are more easy to be tricked.

Currently, insurance providers are fighting medical frauds of all kinds. These include offences like prescribing unwanted medication, over-diagnosis, as well as major crimes behind which stand entire groups of participants.

As a patient you should not be surprised if Daman Insurance, for example, needs to double check your broken tooth after a Jumeirah-based European doctor sent them a claim for 8,800 Dhs. to repair it. Such treatment cost about $100 in Bulgaria, for example.

However, although medical frauds are seen as a worldwide problem, together with China, the Middle East is known as a main zone for these practices. Insurance providers are left with no choice, but to cover the claim which they have received in most of the cases.

The truth, however, may be that many claims are exaggerated and do not reflect the truth.

The other big problem is overcharging. Some hospitals can charge patients for a price that is ten times higher than the normal one.

Understandably, many patients who are aware of such practices are really worried. They are afraid that they may be prescribed unnecessary medication or tests which will simply be a waste of time and resources. But what worries them more is that these frauds may even threaten their health.

Nevertheless, putting your doctor’s integrity under question is a risky thing to do as well. Therefore, patients are advised to use the help of insurance companies and let them investigate the matter.

According to some experts, the issue of medical frauds can be solved by introducing pre-authorization across the entire sector. With this practice, treatment plans will have to be approved in advance by the insurance provider. Pre-authorization is seen as vital for the treatment of in-patients. Through this system, the bill questions will be discussed directly with the medical institution.

However, this measure will protect mainly the insurance companies, but not that much the patients.



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