Individuals living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who have comprehensive international health insurance plans have been warned to be wary when they seek treatment, as some private hospitals have been accused of taking advantage of patients with insurance.
Emirates 24/7 reports that some healthcare providers in the country are seeking to make money by overdiagnosing people who have minor conditions, in order to charge their provider for expensive treatments that may often be medically unnecessary.
The publication said some doctors play on the emotions of concerned patients, spouses or relatives in order to convince them they need treatments for ailments that are more serious than what they actually have. In some cases, it alleged people were even being diagnosed with problems that never existed in the first place.
"Many patients accuse the hospitals of overcharging and over-diagnosing because, in a majority of cases, they are covered by insurance," it stated.
Although Emirates 24/7 noted the anecdotal evidence it has found cannot prove widespread abuse, insurance providers in the UAE are said to be alarmed at the rising cost of healthcare and are looking more closely an individual cases.
One local firm, Daman, is said to investigate over 1,000 cases of suspected fraud every year.
To address the problem, it was reported that the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is set to start regulating services provided by private hospitals in order to clamp down on issues such as insurance fraud and over-treatment in the emirate.
Dr Haidar Saeed al Yousuf, director of the DHA's Health Funding Department, said: "Sometimes people are kept for longer in a hospital or in an ICU unnecessarily so these kinds of things are daily issues that [insurance] members face and they need to be protected."
In order to avoid being impacted by this, expats in the UAE may want to make sure they use reputable doctors, or consider getting a second opinion if they have received a worse diagnosis than expected for a condition.