A global health service company is attempting to make medical insurance more affordable and accessible in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the launch of a smart product.

SmartCare by Cigna is a new region-specific offering by Cigna Insurance Middle East (CIME), and is aimed at “SMEs, corporates and government organisations” within the country.

The company explained that SmartCare “brings to life unique solutions, such as the introduction of a differentiated ‘open access network’ that allows members direct billing access to any UAE network provider, subject to a tier specific coinsurance.”

Other services offered include employee assistance programmes, telehealth functions, clinical care for critical illness, pandemic inclusions, and mental health solutions, CIME said.

Additionally, those using SmartCare would be able to use CIME’s HealthHub Suite, “an integrated health solutions platform that uses digital technology to simplify access to healthcare.” It reportedly allows members to book appointments via a mobile app, as well as provide access to its Cigna Body & Mind app, a personalised tool dedicated to “physical, mental and emotional well-being.”

WHY IT MATTERS

All non-nationals based in the UAE must have valid health insurance in order to reside in the country. For example, proof of valid health insurance is required prior to obtaining or renewing a residency visa. UAE companies must provide health insurance for their employees; those who are self-employed, or running a startup or small business, must provide health insurance for themselves.

Unfortunately, it is commonly known that health insurance rates for those who are self-employed tend to be quite high, and can reach premiums of way over AED 10,000 ($2,722) per year.

With companies wanting to keep premiums low, many opt for the least flexible insurance options for employees.

Cigna has confirmed this with a recent study, revealing that “there is a continuing gap between employee expectations from their health cover and what is offered to them in the workplace.”

The provider stated that “health and well-being remain a priority for employees, with 74% seeking enhanced health cover – but only 28% actually receiving it.”

Looking ahead, CIME believes that SmartCare by Cigna will improve on this by “providing flexible plans using a unique open access network, high annualised maximums, and a wide-ranging health cover that includes chronic and pre-existing conditions, regular health check-ups, and pandemic coverage.”

It said in a statement: “SmartCare by Cigna brings to a cluttered insurance market much-needed clarity and a refreshing promise to make healthcare affordable and accessible.”

ON THE RECORD

“As part of our ongoing market research prior to and during the pandemic in 2020 to understand customer needs, we realised that affordable healthcare solutions with service excellence attached still remain elusive and are much in demand,” said Jerome Droesch, CEO of Cigna MEA and SEA. “We also understood that tweaking existing solutions will not address this gap or support businesses as they learn to cope with ever changing market demands. Cigna is keen to ensure we plug this market gap and hope to empower employers and employees as part of our long-term strategy with SmartCare by Cigna.”

He added: “As an insurer of choice for multinationals, governments, and individuals across the region over 17 years, Cigna is proud of always keeping our customer needs at the heart of all we do. Launching a flexible and affordable product at this critical time as the world struggles with post-pandemic recovery, demonstrates our commitment to enhancing the health of the region and bringing to market convenient and efficient solutions that are the need of the hour.”