Some years back, Dubai’s health care system was a major concern among the members of the UAE Federal National Council, or the FNC. One alarming factor about it was that hospitals were suffering from a shortage of hospital beds, which prevented them from offering health services to more people. In addition, there was an apparent lack of medical professional staff who would offer medical services to those in need of medical attention. As a result, citizens flew to other countries in seek of medical attention that they need, especially so because a staggering number of UAE’s population were found to be suffering from various chronic diseases, and with UAE coming in second in terms of the number of people with diabetes (Saberi 2014). In addition, in a country where the temperature averages to around 41C during its hot season, heat stroke and heart attacks are common as a large chunk of its population are also suffering from hypertension. These issues appear to be incongruent to the high level of economic improvement of the emir and the apparent opulence that resulted from it. Efforts to address these problems were taken and resulted to unprecedented success after only a few years which earned Dubai’s health care system global recognition.
Today, Dubai’s health care system is recognized as one of the best in the world, with its quality at par with those in Western Europe and the USA (“Living and Working in Gulf States”). The transition in its health care system can be attributed to the fact that the population in Dubai is relatively small, which helped immensely in the implementation of a compulsory health insurance policy for all its residents and citizens. Private healthcare facilities are under the management of the Dubai Health Authority, while its public health care centers are all under the administration of a government sector called the Hospital Service Sector (HSS) (“Living and Working in Gulf States”). Now, Dubai offers public health service to its citizens and expatriates alike at a low cost or for free.
World Bank recognizes Dubai as the second best option in terms of medical tourist destination (“Living and Working in Gulf States”). Tourists who come to Dubai are all required to have travel insurance that would cover private medical treatment. However, in case of emergencies, they can also get treatment from state medical facilities. In general, long waiting lists don’t exist in Dubai. Medical practitioners are a mix of local citizens and foreign medical staff who completed their training in their home countries. However, when it comes to specialised treatment, citizens who are financially able turn mostly to London and American hospitals.
In a short span of time, situation in hospitals has greatly improved with 20 modern facilities distributed all across Dubai where they can be accessed easily. Today, the ratio of hospitals or clinics to patients has grown to 1:78,000 (expatforum.com). Healthcare indicators have also evolved exponentially, with life expectancy at birth considerably high at 73.35 for males and 78.56 for females compared to that in the UK, which is at 79.5 years (expatforum.com). Infant mortality has also improved to “7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births,” while in Britain, it is 4.8 per 1,000 live births (expatforum.com). Diseases such as malaria, measles, and poliomyelitis have been considerably eliminated, while it continues to focus its attention to promoting health campaigns geared towards improving lifestyles in its effort to battle current prominent health problems such as diabetes and other heart problems.
In America, the healthcare system which was once relatively robust, has been under fire for several years now. Although it still remains one of the best in the world, several pertinent issues regarding its system beg attention and reform.
At a glance, the health care system in America is quite unique compared to those in other countries, in such that it is a hybrid system. There are no uniform health system or universal health care in America. As a result, its market-based health insurance system has resulted in a staggering 32 million people who have no health care insurance (NESRI), thereby placing them in a precarious situation as they were denied healthcare when they needed them. This resulted in a human rights issue as the death toll reached to 101,000 due to the problematic organization of the healthcare system when it could have been prevented (NESRI). Inequality was at the core of the issue, as victims mostly come from the disadvantaged groups and financially-deprived communities, most of whom are people of color and immigrants.
In an effort to address this challenging problem, American legislature formulated the Obamacare, or America’s Affordable Care Act of 2010. Although riddled with loopholes that sparked debate across the country, Obamacare aimed to make sure that the more than 40 million people who don’t have insurance will be able to get it. The law also implemented incentives and penalties in order to fund and improve the declining quality, but ridiculously costly health care services in the country. So far, there has been a considerable decrease in the number of patients getting readmitted to hospitals, as well as in the health costs (The Economist 2015).
One other focus of the policy was to eradicate what is termed as the “fee for service” model which hospitals are implementing. According to this model, hospitals and doctors performing surgeries get reimbursements for each test or treatment they apply, regardless of the success or failure of the said treatment (The Economist 2015). Under the Obamacare, doctors and hospitals now only get paid based on the success of the procedure, as well as additional incentives to those who are able to “meet cost or performance targets” (The Economist 2015). Prices charged for medical treatment have always been problematic as there is no fixed price for each of them. This has resulted in various instances of abuse and unjust pricing, which is why under the Obamacare, hospitals were required to submit their prices.
The new reform has encouraged people to look for health insurance which offer better treatment at a cheaper price. However, this had health care providers pushed against the corner, so to speak, as they were forced to adapt to the changes or face the risk of losing their business. Walk-in clinics have increased in number, and these are ideal for people who only require minor tests and treatments. With competitive nurses administering care, clear and affordable prices for every service, and fast service, health care needs of some people are being addressed in no time. “Urgent-care centers “ have also built to address injuries and illnesses which don’t constitute as life-threatening. These centers are better alternatives to going to emergency units in hospitals where it could get busy and crowded that the quality of treatment can be compromised.
The effects of the reforms instigated by the Obamacare continue to ensue, and while this may lead to a monopoly of market power as private businesses may take over public hospitals due to their efficient services at lower costs, patients are empowered. Both public and private health insurers are pushed to improve the quality of health care they provide, and this increases the chances for citizens to get the health care they need. There are many other aspects that have to be analyzed in this new reform, but from this perspective, the health care system in America appears to be well on its way towards getting healed.
Just Landed, 2016. An introduction to health care in Dubai. Justlanded.com. Available at:
https://www.justlanded.com/english/Dubai/Dubai-Guide/Health/Introduction [Accessed 8 Apr 2016].
NESRI. Health care in the United States. Nesri.org. Available at:
< https://www.nesri.org/programs/health-care-in-the-united-states> [Accessed 8 Apr 2016].
Pallot, P., 2010. Expat guide to the UAE: health care. The Telegraph. Available at:
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/expat-health/8015363/Expat-guide-to-the-UAE-health-care.html> [Accessed 9 Apr 2016].
Sahberi, M., 2014. How robust is Dubai health care system? Gulf News Health. Available at:
http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/health/how-robust-is-dubai-health-care-system-1.1316924 [Accessed 8 Apr 2016].
The Economist, 2015. Health care in America: Shock treatment. The Economist. Available at:
< http://www.economist.com/news/business/21645741-wasteful-and-inefficient-industry-throes-great-disruption-shock-treatment> [Accessed 8 Apr 2016].