Aetna Awarded Dubai Contract

Rick Johnson, for HealthLeaders Media , December 12, 2008

The Dubai Health Authority has selected U.S. managed care giant Aetna to provide health management programs and services for outpatient care practices beginning January 1, 2009. Aetna will be one of two companies providing the services that are part of the government of Dubai's plans to mandate primary care next year.

Currently, Dubai offers select health programs to its 1.5 million residents, more than a million of which are expatriates working in the region. The new system will require residents to register for basic health services.

Martha Temple, president of Aetna Global Benefits says that Aetna will be compensated directly from the government, and Aetna will then reimburse the outpatient providers. She described this program as a significant opportunity for Aetna to expand its footprint in the region, as other emirates and countries in the Middle East are eyeing carefully Dubai's progress toward mandated healthcare.

Aetna, in partnership with Gateway Healthcare, will provide administrative services, negotiate arrangements with hospitals and clinics, and develop disease management programs. The government of Dubai estimates that about 300 to 500 independent outpatient clinics will join the system in 2009.

Considering that the Dubai Health Authority might someday expand this new mandated program into a more comprehensive universal healthcare program, Aetna's appointment is significant in its strategic role in the region. In a prepared statement the Dubai Health Authority says that Aetna and GlobeMed Gulf will work closely together to develop a future strategy for each outpatient clinic to develop pricing lists, patient registration processes, establishing data flows with the health authority, the transfer of funds, and costs as well as standard administrative support.

"Whilst we are now finalizing the details with the two successful organizations, this is an evolving program and we fully anticipate further opportunities for the industry moving forward as we continue to build partnerships across the healthcare sector," Laila Al Jassmi, director of the Dubai Health Authority's Health Funding Programme, said in a prepared statement.

Rick Johnson is senior online editor of HealthLeaders Media. He may be reached at
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