This group of people were most affected after the introduction of co-pay in the middle of last year. Some faced recurring bills of up to Dh60,000 a month. The decision will also ease pressure on public hospitals, which as The National reported, were hit by an influx of patients, which put further strain on medical staff and resulted in longer waiting times for patients. For Emiratis, even those who could afford medical treatment under the co-pay system, Sheikh Mohammed’s decision sent a strong message that the leadership will continue to support citizens even during this period of relatively subdued optimism about the economy, a sentiment driven by low oil prices and slow job and wage growth. It also shows that the Government is committed to continuous reform of the healthcare sector to create a more efficient and better framework for patient care.
This was confirmed by the Crown Prince’s orders on the same day to establish a specialist medical college and a healthcare city in the emirate.The healthcare system is undergoing a period of profound change – several amendments were made to the insurance system last year – with the intention of achieving a sector that is fit for the long term. Those earlier changes helped weed out cases of waste and abuse within the system. The co-pay waiver is, on the other hand, a benevolent act designed to alleviate financial pressure on Emiratis and to give public hospitals some breathing space.