If you dream of being an international student in Dubai, it’s good to prepare well in advance for any unforeseen events. Do you want to know the best health insurance for you to be prepared in case of problems? Read this article to have all the answers right at your fingertips!
Health insurance is one of the points that many exchange students do not give much importance to, but which is essential to guarantee a peaceful and safe home in another country. In addition, most institutions require you to present proof of hiring an insurance company to enroll!!
With that in mind, I have listed the best insurance options for students in Dubai, along with information about types of student visas, the courses that are offered, and the health system offered in the country.
Do I really need health insurance as an international student in Dubai?
According to a 2014 law created by the Dubai Health Authority, all residents, including foreign students, need to prove that they are covered by health insurance to reside there.
Furthermore, even though the United Arab Emirates does not require travel insurance coverage when entering the country, it is always good to insure yourself that way as well.
Having specific health insurance coverage in Dubai is necessary in case something unforeseen happens and medical care in the new country where you will live is necessary.
How does the health system work in Dubai?
Dubai is a city that has several quality clinics and hospitals, with a high standard of health and most professionals are fluent in Arabic and English. However, rapid population growth makes it difficult for the health system to meet this demand.
Each emirate in the country has great autonomy in its health system and Dubai is no different. As the body that oversees public and private healthcare systems, the city relies on the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
In addition, this authority also manages the four hospitals in the emirate’s public system, which offer different types of care for inpatients or outpatients.
The health sector is financed through collected taxes, but there are concerns about the public sector’s ability to cover the costs of all citizens in the coming years.
According to data, it is estimated that citizens of the United Arab Emirates prefer to use the public system, while expatriates and foreign students prefer to hire a private system for security, even if the public sector also serves these people.
The 7 best and cheapest health insurance plans for international students in Dubai
As I always recommend, it is interesting that you make an online quote with all the companies listed here… It may take a little more time, but in the end you will save a lot more on your move to Dubai!
Ah! And to make this process a little easier for you, I also created a comparison table just below the plan descriptions showing the different health insurance plan options for students.
To learn more about the types of courses and visas that you can apply for, continue reading on beyond the list of the best international health insurance policies for students in Dubai.
IMG has several types and options of health plans for students (as well as insurance plans for expatriates in general).
They have three main student-focused insurance plans to choose from. But one of them, The Patriot Exchange Program is only available for students who are going to study in the United States. So, we’re just going to talk about the other two here.
Plan # 1: Student Health Advantage
This plan has the necessary features to meet the basic health coverage requirements required by your school (but it’s always interesting to check the minimum coverage required by the institution you will be enrolling!).
This plan is different in that it covers many things that other plans do not – such as mental health-related treatments, maternity care and pre-existing illnesses. IMG also has COVID-19 cost coverage and telemedicine available.
Plan # 2: Student Health Advantage Platinum
This plan is the same as the previous one but offers double the maximum coverage: $1,000,000 USD.
What I like about IMG’s International Student Insurance:
- Plans are made specifically for students
- They cover students of all nationalities
- More than 17,000 healthcare professionals available worldwide
- Customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- They cover COVID-19 and telemedicine appointments
What I don’t like about IMG’s International Student Insurance:
- Some programs have a 1-year waiting period to review coverage for pre-existing conditions
As one of the world’s largest health insurers, Cigna Global has plans for different types of travelers, such as expatriates and international students.
They have three main plans: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. These plans have coverage not only in Dubai, but all over the world!
If you plan to visit other countries during your stay in Dubai, you can choose whether you want to be covered there as well (this might make your policy a little more expensive, so in that case it might be better to just take out a short term travel insurance).
To make it easier, this is a table that compares the available plan options:
Overall, Cigna’s plans are very flexible and allow you to add coverage (including dental and eye care or international evacuation and crisis assistance) as needed.
The company also offers several payment options such as annual, monthly, and quarterly.
What I like about international health insurance for Cigna Global:
- They respond to complaints quickly (according to the company, 95% of refund requests are received within 10 days)
- It has a list of over 3,000 hospitals available, as well as information guides, in its online help center
- They offer many care options if you need medical care as they partner with over 1.65 million hospitals, doctors, clinics and specialists around the world.
- They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for any need.
What I don’t like about international student health insurance from Cigna Global:
- Their most basic plan doesn’t cover prenatal and postnatal care
- They don’t cover outpatient consultations with specialists and doctors
Now Health International is at the forefront of the global insurance industry and its primary objective is to ensure the contentment of its customers through cost-effective and proficient insurance options.
Consequently, a major benefit offered by this company is its cutting-edge customer support, delivering prompt and convenient access to information.
Every Now Health plan is meticulously crafted to address, assist, and resolve the unique difficulties faced by individuals from abroad residing in foreign countries, encompassing international students and exchange students worldwide.
Moreover, all plans are adaptable, allowing for seamless customization to suit your precise requirements.
What I like about Now Health International Student Plans:
- Clear information and 24/7 customer service
- Coverage in over 190 countries and territories
- Various international insurance options and customizable plans
- Some plans offer coverage for maternity routines
What I don’t like about Now Health International Student Plans:
- In some procedures, Now Health works with a reimbursement system
- For plans with routine maternity coverage, you must wait a 12-month waiting period to access this benefit
Foyer Global Health has several plans! From Basic to Premium, with short or long term stays, individual or family… Whatever you need in Dubai, there is a program that meets your requirements!
The company has three main categories for its plans. See what they are and which plan fits each one:
- Covers surgery, anesthetics and consultations
- Medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers and rescue measure if needed
- Congenital diseases (up to a maximum of €100,000 per lifetime)
- No coverage for maternity and childbirth
- It also covers surgeries and anesthetics, as well as consultations
- Aid and therapeutic devices (such as artificial limbs and prostheses) of up to €2,000
- Congenital diseases up to a maximum of €150,000 per lifetime
- Maternity and childbirth care (up to €5,000 with a 10-month wait)
- Like the other plans, it also covers surgery, anesthetics and consultations.
- Therapeutic devices
- Congenital diseases up to a maximum of €200,000 per lifetime
- Maternity care, childbirth care, and in-hospital midwife or nursing services (up to €20,000 with a 10-month wait)
What I like about health insurance plans for international students from Foyer Global Health:
- All plans cover primary dental appointments, surgeries and treatments
- 24/7 customer service via telephone and online platforms such as email with experienced consultants, doctors, and specialists
- Coverage in case of need for evacuation or repatriation
- Have medical support and pre-travel advice (such as information on vaccinations and preparing a first-aid kit)
What I don’t like about health insurance plans for international students from Foyer Global Health:
- Their most basic plan doesn’t cover prenatal and postnatal care
The four levels of student insurance coverage they offer will work great for your needs in Dubai! These levels are:
- This has the lowest deductibles and the highest maximum coverage compared HCCMIS’s other plans
- There is a 6-month wait before a pre-existing condition can be covered
- Provides coverage for club/intercollegiate sports
- Offers personal liability coverage
- 6-month waiting period before a pre-existing condition can be covered
- Optional Crisis Response Benefit for rescue, natural disaster evacuation and protection of your personal belongings
- Coverage for pre-existing conditions begins 12 months after plan purchase
- Average benefits and higher deductibles (lower monthly cost than many other options)
- Lower cost (but lower overall benefits and coverage)
- Has the highest deductible of all plans
- No coverage for club sports
- Only covers a pre-existing condition in its acute onset
Below is a comparison of the four HCCStudentSecure plans discussed above (click to see the full graphic):
What I like about HCCMIS StudentSecure plans:
- They include emergency dental coverage of up to $250 maximum per tooth and $500 maximum for the certification period
- You can save money if you pay the full amount of your plan in advance
- They have some of the cheapest plans on this list
What I don’t like about HCCMIS StudentSecure plans:
- No coverage for pre-existing conditions in the Smart plan
- There is a 6-month waiting period to cover pre-existing conditions (even on the Elite plan)
- No vaccination coverage unless you choose the Elite plan
- No coverage for maternity care or nursery for newborns on the Smart plan
- Their cheaper plan have pretty high deductibles
3 international health insurance companies that can also be used by international students in Dubai
The two companies listed below do not offer precisely tailored health insurance just for exchange students, but they do offer international health insurance which will likely also be accepted by your educational institution as proof of coverage.
So here’s my advice for you: get a quote from them and compare it to quotes and simulations obtained from the companies above. If you find that one of them offers better coverage at a more affordable price than the other options, check with your Dubai school or university to see if they accept this type of policy.
Global Underwriters offers a wide range of international health insurance plans for different types of people and traveler needs, including exchange and international students in their new country.
When it comes to GU plans, I recommend Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International for exchange students in Dubai.
What I like about international student health insurance from Global Underwriters:
- Programs provide coverage for medical evacuations, emergency dentistry, and repatriation of human remains.
- Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International have coverage of up to $1,000,000
- They have extra coverage and assistance in case of lost luggage and travel interruptions
- Customer service 24 hours a day, seven days a week
What I don’t like about international student health insurance from Global Underwriters:
- The Diplomat International plan does not cover Covid-19 infection
- The Diplomat Long Term plan does not cater for students residing in Australia and Iran, as well as New York, Maryland, South Dakota, but that won’t be a problem for you if you go to Dubai!)
- The plans are a little more expensive than the others mentioned here
GeoBlue is yet another good option if you are looking for a health insurance policy to cover you while in Portugal.
What I like about GeoBlue’s international health insurance plans:
- Their policies are highly adaptable and flexible based on your particular medical needs
- They have 24/7 customer service
- Certain plans cover extra medical costs like evacuation, preventive medical care, and maternity care.
- There is an option to add ophthalmology and dentistry coverage
- Their Xplorer plan covers extreme sports but does not have a maximum coverage limit for medical expenses, does not charge deductibles for standard services, and has no cancellation fees
What I don’t like about GeoBlue’s international health insurance plans:
- Residents of New York and Washington aren’t able to be covered by GeoBlue plans (although this may not be an issue if you move your official residence to Portugal!)
- You need to contact a broker and speak with them personally to get a quote (which complicates the process)
Aetna is a company with a great reputation in the field of health insurance. Aetna’s biggest advantage is the flexibility of their many plans as you can customize based on exactly what you need. They are also known for their excellent customer service.
What I like about Aetna’s international health insurance plans:
- They have over 50 years of experience in the health insurance industry
- They offer flexible plans with many ways to customize
- Their customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Their plans cover emergency evacuations, cancer treatments, repatriation, and hospitalization
- They’ve won awards like as “Health Insurer of the Year” and “Best International Private Health Insurance Provider”
- They have an online platform that encourages healthier habits with a points and rewards system
What I don’t like about Aetna’s international health insurance plans:
- Their website is a little unclear about the exact coverage of some of their policies
- They don’t offer any type of travel insurance plan
Table comparison of the 7 best health insurance plans for international/exchange students in Portugal
|Medical Maximum||Unlimited (for the Platinum plan)||$5,000,000||There are no limits independent of the plan||US$1,000,000 per year||$1,000,000|
|Mental Health Benefit||Unspecified||Unlimited for up to 90 days||Included in all plans with a 10-month waiting period||Outpatient: $50 per day max up to $500 in total||Yes|
|Inpatient Prescription Drugs||80% coverage out-of-network, 100% in the USA and internationally||Unspecified||Coverage available||Name-brand drugs: 50% coinsurance
Generic drugs: 100% coinsurance
Special drugs: no coverage
|Outpatient Prescription Drugs||50% of actual costs, 90 days maximum per dispensation||Unspecified||Unspecified||coinsurance
Generic drugs: 100% coinsurance
Special drugs: no coverage
|Mental Health Benefit||Inpatient and Outpatient: $5,000 lifetime maximum to paid in full depending on the plan||Inpatient and Outpatient: $50,000 lifetime maximum||None||Inpatient and Outpatient: limit not specified||Inpatient, outpatient, and therapy: limit not specific|
|Outpatient Prescription Drugs||None, unless you buy the International Outpatient Option||Up to $8,000,000||Full reimbursement||Yes||Yes|
|Repatriation of Remains||$25,000 maximum or $5,000 for cremation||Optional||Optional||$50,000 maximum or $5,000 for cremation||$13,500 maximum|
|Hospital room coverage||Offered up to the average semi-private room rate||Private room||Private Room||Usual||Usual|
|Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD & D)||Principal sum of $25,000 that is not subject to deduction||$25,000 for main policy holder, $10,000 for spouse on the plan, $5,000 for child on the plan
Total limit of $250,000
|Optional||$25,000 for main policy holder, $10,000 for spouse on the plan, $5,000 for child on the plan
Total limit of $250,000
|There is coverage|
|Emergency Dental||$500 per injury for the coverage period||Optional||Optional||$2,500||Yes|
|Maternity Care||Only covered in Platinum plan||$14,000/€11,000/£9,000 in the Platinum plan||Only available in the Special and Exclusive plans||Within the US: up to 80% coverage with a $25,000 limit within the PPO network/Outside PPO: up to 50% coverage with a $25,000 limit
Outside the United States:
Up to 80% coverage with a $25,000 limit. Benefits reduced by 25% if pregnancy is not reported within the first 90 days.
|Pre-existing condition exclusion period||Maximum limit of $1,500 with a 12-month waiting period||$14,000/€11,000/£9,000 in the Platinum plan||Coverage available||Limited of $250,000 per plan||Unspecified|
|Intensive Care Unit (ICU)||100% coverage after the deductible has been met||Full coverage with the Platinum plan||Coverage available||Up to $50,000||Not specified|
|Vaccines||Unspecified||Optional||Only in the Special and Exclusive plans||$200||Yes, but must be paid as a separate plan|
|Routine care for newborns||Unspecified||Optional||Only in the Special and Exclusive plans||Up to $750||Yes, but must be paid as a separate plan|
|Pre-existing annual maximum once covered||Unlimited depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Full reimbursement||Unlimited depending on the plan||Depends on the plan|
|Pre-existing lifetime maximum once covered||Unlimited depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Full reimbursement||Unlimited depending on the plan||Depends on the plan|
Worldwide Medical Insurance / Comparison Chart*
Part of the table courtesy of Tokio Marine HCC
*Note: this table is just for informational purposes and subject to change. It was accurate as of the time we wrote it here, but please check each company’s individual website for updated info.
Universities for those who want to study in Dubai
Dubai is an emirate that has several local universities, in addition to foreign universities located in its territory. Here, I will talk a little about some options for those of you who are still not sure where you want to study in the UAE.
1. University of Dubai: This university has a new campus, built in the Dubai Academic City on land granted in 2006 by the government of the emirate.
It offers courses in engineering, technology, business and law. In addition, its mission is innovation through research, a global academic perspective, with partnerships with universities around the world and building character and leadership.
Application information, the annual calendar and general campus news can be found on the university’s official website.
2. Al Ghurair University: With the mission of providing quality education, developing diverse and competent professionals and promoting extension programs that have community involvement, this university enjoys international recognition.
Applied research, scientific dissemination and quality education are its highlights.
The university has student grants, housing and loans to facilitate your stay and course in the country.
3. Murdoch University Dubai: Murdoch is an Australian university that has a campus in Dubai. It has five stars and students from over 50 nationalities.
You can apply and find out more information on the university’s website.
4. Higher Colleges of Technology (HTC): Founded in 1988, HTC has more than 23,000 students who attend its 16 campuses divided into male and female.
Dubai is one of the university’s campuses, which has courses in communication, computer and information sciences, education, engineering and technology, health and business.
In order to register, it is necessary to pay attention to the deadlines available on the university website.
What types of student visas can I apply for in Dubai?
From the moment you decide to spend more than 90 days in Dubai, whether as a student or not, you will need to apply for a visa to prove your intentions in the emirate.
There are two student visas granted in the United Arab Emirates, namely:
- Short-Term Education Visa, which lasts from three to six months and one of the requirements is that the study program for which you are enrolling has at least 15 hours of workload per week.
It needs to be requested before going to Dubai and allows the student to also work in the country while studying.
It is worth mentioning that, although the visa may last up to six months, the visa granted will be according to your course duration, so if your course lasts four months, this will be the duration stipulated for your visa.
If you need to stay longer than the maximum time of your visa in the country, you will need to leave it and apply again for another visa.
- Long Term Academic Year Visa is the visa that allows you to spend up to one year in the United Arab Emirates and, consequently, in Dubai.
This visa will only be granted to students whose chosen course lasts more than five months. As with the previous visa, the student is also allowed to work in the country for the duration of their visa as a student.
In addition, it is allowed to enter and exit the country multiple times while the visa is within its validity period.
In order to be able to apply for a visa, it is necessary to submit some documents online to the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) or to the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), such as:
- Original passport and copies;
- Request form;
- Student photo and twelve copies;
- Letter of admission from the university or educational institution to which the student is going;
- Medical test at a UAE certified medical facility;
- Proof of financial funds to stay in the country;
- Proof of residence of the place where the student will stay during their exchange;
- Copy of payment of required fees.
As a final reminder, here are the 5 best and cheapest health insurance policies for international students in Portugal:
- Student Health Advantage from IMG
- International student health insurance from Cigna Global
- Now Health International
- Foyer Global Health
- StudentSecure from HCCMIS
In short… When preparing to study in Dubai, make sure you don’t forget to take out health insurance, as it is extremely essential.
After all, it will be impossible to enroll to study in the country without it… Besides, it’s complicated to keep paying all the medical expenses out of your own pocket!
If you still have questions about student health insurance options in Dubai (or moving abroad or insurance in general), leave a comment in the section and I’ll get back to you ASAP!
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