In Kenya, it is challenging for people in the informal sector to access health insurance coverage due to the inconvenience of the existing techniques and the high premium rates. Workers in the informal sector make up about 80 percent of the entire workforce in the country. Consequently, it is vital for this population to find convenient ways of accessing health insurance. The good news is that the advent of mobile technology and its expansion across the country has had a positive effect on the lives of Kenya due to services such as mobile money transfer. Today, about 90 percent of all people across the country are registered mobile phone users. In turn, this presents numerous opportunities for them to access health insurance via the mobile money platform. One of the technologies that enable people to access health insurance through the mobile money platform is M-TIBA by CarePay in collaboration with PharmAccess and Safaricom.
What is M-TIBA?
M-TIBA is a mobile wallet innovation for inclusive healthcare. The technology is changing the way Kenyans pay for and access healthcare. The innovation enables people to save, send, receive as well as pay for medical treatment using the mobile money platform or a mobile health wallet on their mobile phone. The technology is convenient since it allows for a transparent and efficient way of linking physicians, patients, governments, and payers. The technology is also based on a regular real-time data flow.
How does it work?
First, you must register for the service by dialing *254# either as an individual beneficiary or as a contributor for another beneficiary (a family member or a dependent etc.). Then, you start saving small amounts of money as little as KES 100 regularly in the M-TIBA account for yourself or send the money to your dependent's phone number with certainty that the funds will be used for medical purposes only. The option of sending money to M-TIBA is available and it allows you to send medical funds from your M-pesa account to the M-TIBA account of other people, for instance, your relatives or household workers. M-TIBA has a bonus system to encourage medical care savings in which once you register and deposit KES 100 or more each month, you get a KES 50 monthly bonus for up to one year. Besides, UAP Insurance will offer you a one-year personal accident cover for an individual member and a single spouse totaling kes 8,000. Only selected health care providers to accept funds on M-TIBA (see http://m-tiba.co.ke/facility).
What are the challenges it is attempting to Address?
About two out of every five Kenyans in need of healthcare fail to seek hospital treatment due to financial challenges. Besides, about 50 percent of medical related expenditures in Kenya is out of pocket.
Medically related statistics in Kenya paint a negative picture regarding healthcare accessibility of the citizens. For most people, healthcare emergencies create financial problems due to unexpected medical expenditures.
M-TIBA is attempting to address the issue of the lack of health coverage and connect people to health care through their cell phones.
What are its benefits?
M-TIBA reaches and empowers people who face challenges when attempting to access healthcare through the existing system by building trust. Using the mobile wallet or mobile money platform, it is easy for every person with a mobile phone to save funds directly to the M-TIBA account without the need for long paperwork periods. You only need to register for the service by dialing *253#.
M-TIBA has the capacity to ensure achievement of universal health care since today a large percentage of Kenyans have access to a mobile phone. It reaches both rich and the poor without discrimination. The technology empowers customers, enhances their financial ability, encourages improved care quality as well as obtains domestic and global health financing. M-TIBA links patients, medical facilities and payers (donor agencies, health insurers or family members) directly.
M-TIBA has the capacity to reach low-income earners whocannot afford the existing health insurance systems. So far, the technology has registered nearly one million users and paid about KES 140 million in medical costs. Besides, the quality of hospitals or medical facilities on the platform is evaluated based on the globally recognized SafeCare standards. Moreover, clients can access affordable credit using the Medical Credit Fund based on the history of their M-TIBA payments.
M-TIBA gathers medical information electronically, which gives physicians the ability to make informed decisions regarding offered services based on the data to provide improved medical care to patients.
The reach of M-TIBA so far
Currently, M-TIBA services are available in Nairobi and its environment and parts of central Kenya. However, in April 2017, the nationwide rollout was launched and thus the services will reach many people within this year.
This is an opportunity for you to access health insurance conveniently through your mobile phone. For more information visit http://m-tiba.co.ke.