Breast cancer check-ups for women and other life-saving preventive treatments could be included in health insurance plans within six months, as medical experts voiced growing concerns that women are avoiding early testing because of the costs involved.
"We are working on a programme for our patients with the Dubai Health Authority,” said Dr Sherif Mahmoud, head of healthcare operations at Axa Insurance Gulf. “I believe in six months we will see more insurers take up this model."
"We need to encourage people that this is the first step. Prevention and early detection is key and insurance companies must play a role and invest more on that side."
Preventative cover for breast cancer, considered one of the five most prevalent cancers in the UAE, can cost between AED1,000 (US$272) and AED3,000 a year while screenings cost between AED500 and AED1,000 a year. Treatment costs are covered by insurance companies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, reported The National.
Currently, death rates due to breast cancer in the UAE stand at 80 to 90 women out of 100,000. The government hopes to reduce that figure to 62 by 2021.
"There is no way to reach this figure except through early prevention, so it’s not smart at all to continue doing the same things because you are living in an environment that is asking for something completely different," Dr Mahmoud said.