Can I take medical insurance as part of my salary package?

Q: Can I take medical insurance as part of my salary package?

If an employer gives you a choice between taking some extra cash other than salary or get medical benefits, and one knows that medical benefits / insurance is more beneficial to him in terms of his expenses, and therefore he chooses to get medical benefits. Please note: one does not do a contract with insurance company as it is the employer who does this; is this choosing of insurance from company instead of extra cash OK?

What if company says we give you salary, and if you want the benefit / insurance package we will deduct some money from your salary is this OK? Please note that one does not do a contract with insurance, it’s the employer who does the contract for all its employees, the choice is for the employer to participate in it or not, so is this OK?

الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب

A: If the medical benefits are given as part of the salary the employee receives, whether these are classed as ‘extra benefits’ in lieu of ‘extra cash’ or otherwise, then due to customary practice and the absence of dispute such benefits appear to be permissible and any uncertainty is tolerated. Effectively, this appears to be a tolerable uncertainty in the gross salary. If the medical benefits are purchased on behalf of the employee with deductions from the employee’s salary, then the gross uncertainty in the separate contract cannot be overlooked without pressing need.

To elaborate further: In principle, conventional healthcare insurance contracts involve the prohibited elements of riba, qimar and gharar. Thus, it is not permissible for a Muslim to enter into a contract with a conventional healthcare insurance provider. However, non-Muslims living under non-Muslim rule are not subject to Shariah principles in relation to civil transactions. Thus, if a non-Muslim employer procures health care cover from a non-Muslim health care provider the Shariah repugnant nature of that specific contract will not extend to the Muslim employees.

If a non-Muslim employer provides such health care cover to a Muslim employee whilst describing it as a benefit additional to the regular salary it is actually a contingent and undetermined part of the salary. The contingent and indeterminate nature introduces uncertainty to the contract as to the final sum of remuneration. In view of this a Muslim employee should abstain from availing of such benefits if possible and where there is no urgent need. However, where this is unavoidable or the costs of additional treatments are beyond the capacity of the general masses then in the absence of the uncertainty resulting in dispute it would appear to be permissible to avail of such benefits.

If the contract is between the insurance company and the employee then owing to the incidence of riba and qimar it is not permissible to enter in to such contract. If the employee is obliged to do so then he/she must take the cheapest option and in the event of a claim can only claim back what he/she has already contributed. Any excess claimed must be returned even if this is in the form of premiums.

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