Does Health Insurance Cover Plastic Surgery in the UAE?

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  | Published: 24 December 2020 | Last Updated On: 22 January 2021

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UAE is the land of luxury and this luxury is often translated into the lavish lifestyle choices that people in this country make. Amongst many such lavish choices is opting for cosmetic surgery in order to make oneself more beautiful, more perfect, just like the rest of this beautiful country. 

In this quest to fulfil society’s expectations of what it means to be beautiful, both men and women in the country spend extravagantly on surgeries to meet the idea of what is ideal. UAE is a popular hub for people wanting to undergo surgical procedures to be beautiful as the country has the highest plastic surgeon to patient ratio in the entire world. There is one cosmetic surgeon in the UAE for every 18,000 patients. 

Statistics show there were over 1.27 million liposuction procedures conducted in the UAE alone in the year 2011. The report by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery says that UAE was the centre of 3.18 Botox operations in the year 2011. On the contrary, the USA and Brazil have reported 50,000 and 44,000 cases respectively. These numbers show the obsession with plastic surgery prevalent in the UAE. These surgeries are extremely expensive and thus it often raises the question that whether health insurance coverage in UAE includes cosmetic surgery or not? 

Does your health insurance coverage include plastic surgery?

These surgeries can be very notoriously expensive. The average cost of surgery combined with the cost of consultations with the physician and the implants that are counted as surgical materials, the cost of operation theatre, anaesthetic procedures as well as post-surgical care, all of it can burn a hole in your pocket. The huge bill at the end of these procedures often makes the policyholders wonder if it will be covered by their plan. 

Well, the answer to the question is, NO. Usually, health insurance coverage does not include the cost of plastic surgeries. Most health insurance providers do not include it in their policies as it is considered optional. These surgeries are excluded simply because they are considered to be not necessary for improving an individual’s life or making their bodies function better. The idea that it is for cosmetic purposes, that is, for beautification, makes these procedures an exclusion. 

Cosmetic procedures are standard exclusions for most insurers in the UAE. Even the THIQA healthcare program by the Abu Dhabi government for UAE nationals does not cover the cosmetic surgeries and associated expenses as they are elective surgeries that are not medically prescribed. Even hospitalizations or complications leading to injury are excluded from most medical insurance coverage. 

When does health insurance coverage include cosmetic surgery?

A cosmetic procedure will be covered by an insurance company only if it is considered necessary. The following reasons might help get a cover:

  • If the surgery is considered to be reconstructive
  • If the surgery is considered necessary to help strengthen a bodily function, that is, if it is medically necessary

Depending on whether the surgery falls in these categories or if it is for cosmetic purposes, the answer to whether or not you get health insurance coverage will depend. On the basis of these, the insurance companies’ guidelines will depend. As stated earlier, cosmetic procedures are excluded from coverage. But each company has its own set of rules and benefit plans. It is better to discuss this in detail with your provider at the time of booking the policy. 

Why do Insurance providers not offer health insurance coverage on cosmetic surgeries?

If it is an elective surgery, the insurance provider will not cover it. Unforeseen medical procedures and operations are covered by the health insurance companies but any surgery that involves you going under the knife willingly in order to beautify oneself, will not be covered. If however, during the surgery, something goes wrong and you are able to supply proof of malpractice, the doctor’s insurance policy might be able to cover your corrective operation. 

So as long as a surgery is considered medically necessary, it will be included in your health insurance coverage unless the policy pre-excludes all forms of cosmetic surgeries. 

What is a reconstructive surgery?

A reconstructive surgery is one that is conducted to correct any developmental defects like a cleft palette. It is a procedure that is performed to rectify any past trauma, or defect due to a disease or an infection. These procedures aim to improve the bodily function or normalizing the appearance of a patient. These are sometimes included in the health insurance coverage offered by insurers. 

Mentioned below are some types of reconstructive surgeries: 

Surgery 

What is it for?

Blepharoplasty

Droopy skin around the eyes causing vision-related issues

Septoplasty

Deviated septum that hinders proper breathing

Otoplasty

Corrective surgery for deformed ears due to injury or illness

Breast reduction

If there’s a history of back, shoulder or neck pain

Gynecomastia

Enlarged breasts in men causing discomfort


The above-mentioned surgeries can be covered by your insurance provider since they are necessary for the body to function normally. On the contrary, here are some types of cosmetic surgeries that are not likely to be included in a health insurance cover:

  • Liposuction
  • Face lift
  • Hair transplant
  • Breast augmentation
  • Rhinoplasty 

Ways to ensure that your plastic surgery is included in your health cover:

  • Before going for a surgery, it is always better to contact your insurance representative directly to find out if your surgery is included in your health insurance coverage and if it is, how much coverage will you get? Get the quote with the cost estimates.
  • Find out the deductibles.
  • Find out if you too have to pay a percentage for the surgery.
  • Find out if the post-surgery medications like pain killers etc are covered too.
  • Get all the details in writing so that you don’t receive a surprise at the last minute.
  • Do not assume that something is covered by your plan without confirming it from your insurance provider. 

In a Nutshell

Make sure to check with your insurance provider whether your cosmetic surgery is covered by your plan. If the answer is no, ask them for the alternatives you have since only your insurance company can provide the right answers to your questions. So, once you contact your surgeon and get the exact cost of the procedure, call your insurers to get your concerns cleared.