Tuesday, April 10, 2007


It's unfortunate, from the point of view of an insurance company, that those people who reckon that they're not going to need medical care don't pay the insurance premiums. Only the sickly and unhealthy see the need. Of course, if you're forever needing medical care you'll make frequent insurance claims and thus push up the cost of future insurance premiums. Insurance companies are not interested in the health of the nation. They only exist to take more in premiums than they pay out in claims. The local press is quite happy to publicise cases where someone has had medical treatment, only to learn afterwards that it's not covered by the insurance. To quote Monty Python, "You see, you unfortunately plumped for our 'NeverPay' policy which, you know, if you never claim is very worthwhile..."

The healthcare industry is a super money-spinner too. Why else would every other villa along Jumeira Beach Road be some sort of private clinic, dental specialist or spinal injuries unit? Why is an entire Heathcare City taking shape behind Wafi City? Why indeed. Clearly there is a lot of money to be made from illness and injury.

Trying to get my own insurance cover a little while back proved nigh on impossible. I figured that even the healthiest individual could have an accident, and as I explained to the insurance companies that I canvassed, I hardly ever found it necessary to see a doctor, and was looking for something that would help me out largely in case of a traffic-related injury.

The company I was recommended got me to fill in the forms, pointed out that there was no medical required provided that I disclose all pre-existing conditions (such as they are), and took my money. After cashing the cheque the company demanded that I undertake a "full medical examination at my expense"(!) on the basis that my Body Mass Index exceeds 30. Yes, I confess. I'm a lardarse, although "clinically obese" is the official term. And this, it would seem, makes me too high a risk to insure. I made it clear from the outset that I'd undertake whatever medical tests were deemed necessary, but that if the company wanted to change the rules then the company should foot the bill.

The company refused to state categorically what tests were required that would constitute a "full medical examination". I could already anticipate a claim not being paid because I'd not undertaken some obscure test that might have exposed a particular allegedly pre-existing condition. The broker suggested that I could be covered, with exclusions based on claims related to obesity. I see. Anything to do with my cardiovascular system, endocrine system, diabetes and related issues, and even trips and falls would be excluded. Does that leave anything else?

At this point I demanded my money back. If they were going to be this awkward about taking my money, how would the insurers react if I ever had the temerity to make any form of claim? Incidentally, it took a week and threat of legal action before I got my refund.

Other insurance companies proved prohibitively expensive, and some had specific exclusions to their cover such as accidents related to motorsport, skiing, scuba diving, anything to do with motorcycles, and of course AIDS. I must remember not to use a dirty needle while crashing my rally car underwater. One company even refused point-blank to have anything to do with me once I'd disclosed my BMI. This is a great way of getting rid of healthcare telemarketers. Tell them that you're five foot nothing and weigh 16 stone.

The universal Law of Sod decreed that shortly after failing to get insured, I had to go for a minor operation. It was fortunate that the procedure cost a 'mere' Dh 5000. Prior to the op, I had to have a full medical examination. Despite the lardiness of my arse and my desperately unhealthy BMI, the various tests proved that I was healthy enough to have a general anaesthetic. (Apparently they don't give anaesthetic to poorly people - eeek!) Normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol levels and no sign of heart disease, diabetes, orf or hoose. Body Mass Index is fine as one indicator or someone's basic shape, but should never be used as the sole arbiter when assessing whether that someone is about to drop dead of a heart attack.

It's promising, from my point of view as a wage slave, that legislation is proposed to make it compulsory for companies in the UAE to provide medical cover for employees. I'll happily exchange my meagre monthly medical allowance for insurance cover, provided that the insurance will pay up if I make a claim. Eventually a company medical insurance scheme will appear. Unlike individual cover, the up-front administration charges are likely to be lower per employee, thus making the premium lower for everyone. Meanwhile I'll try to avoid too many cashectomy sessions down at the local poly clinic.


CG said...

OMG I need medical insurance just reading that. I laughed so hard that I induced an angina attack and nearly bust my hernia rolling off the bed.
Now I need to pull myself together, have a few puffs of ventolin and try to calm down. Of to BUPA-we-dupe-ya to renew me thinks.

TheBeansprout said...

Firstly a big thanks. Really enjoy reading your blog, it was a really useful insight into Dubai in the lead up to my departure.

BMI is a crazy method on its own of measuring the state of someone's health. Beefy rugby players are "clinically obese" according to their BMI.... but I doubt an insurance company would dare calling them that to their face !

soldiering said...

"insurance companies are not interested in the heath of the nation"
Does an insurance company profit from a policy claim? Do healthy people file claims? Wouldn't an insurance company with a healthy crop of policy holders be in its best interest? It would benefit insurance companies tremendously if they somehow enabled all the +30 BMI'ers out there to better their morbidity factor. As you pointed out its been unfortunate for you the insurance company isn't capable of effecting your BMI, but don't lose hope! You're perfectly capable !

Yellow Box of Doom said...

Dear Mr Goat, I am calling on behalf of the red triangle bank ,we would like to inform you that owing to insufficient Body Mass in your Index account we are forced to terminate your vodaphone's health insurance. A confirmation text message will be sent to your Is-it-a-lot account. If you would be so kind as to forward this to your DU phone it would be much appreciated.


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