ABU DHABI, 14th October, 2016 (WAM) — With ample investment in infrastructure and the Government’s commitment to health, we are blessed with some of the best medical facilities and staff anywhere in the world.

The National, in its editorial, said thanks to labour provisions, residents and citizens of Abu Dhabi are required to have some form of health coverage paid for by their employer. But as the economy transforms under the weight of shifting oil prices and the reshuffling of finances for the post-oil future, healthcare plans have changed in ways that don’t benefit all.

The general approach for many companies has been a one-size-fits-all model for coverage plans. Regardless of whether an employee is a 25-year-old marathon runner or a 61-year-old in moderate health, companies provide the same basket of healthcare coverage. If a given plan is comprehensive, as many used to be, this doesn’t pose many issues for an employee. However, some medical professionals have been known to carry out unneeded treatments in order to inflate bills.

The National has recently reported on this phenomenon in the dental industry, where some unscrupulous practitioners have exhausted insurance allotments for no reason other than those allotments exist. This practice is doing unnecessary damage to the industry and causing large bills for healthcare companies and the employers who pay the premiums. Imagine if this money were diverted into necessary treatments or preventive medicine.

There is another issue at work with the existing plans. When healthcare coverage is curtailed as a result of budgetary concerns, older employers or those with pre-existing conditions who require specific treatments are often left in the cold. Cutting back on health insurance costs is a natural part of any economic cycle and thus an unavoidable reality of doing business. But that shouldn’t stop insurers from offering easy-to-understand top-up options for individuals.

If a company is forced to cut back on costs, then individual employees should be able to spend their own money to upgrade their plans. Moreover, incentives likely to lead to good health, possibly supported by fitness trackers, could help individuals get more out of their plans.

The goal is to adapt the healthcare industry to today’s economic climate. As coverage plans change, those with the ability to do so should be given the option to add enhanced care. Those in good health should be rewarded, and excessive treatments that only meet allotments should not be approved. These subtle changes will have an overall positive effect on the insurers, companies and individuals.

WAM/Hazem/bashir