Medical insurance companies went through very happy months of March to June last year. When the initial Covid-19 cases were reported in Kenya, many Kenyans shied away from hospitals. Many tried their hand at self-medication while others used herbs.
We masked, hand washed, sanitised, stayed at home and social-distanced — and inadvertently kept many sicknesses at bay. Hospitals suffered loss of business. But medical insurance firms did not.
Those were months with very few coronavirus cases. But the story has since changed. Most people who had been infected have recovered while others have died. More than 200 Covid-19 vaccines are in development. Everybody is lined up for the jab.
The government could foot the bill for the vaccination of frontline workers — such as in the health and security sectors — as well as citizens over 50 and those with underlying health conditions. However, when it comes to the general public, well-wishers, especially insurance companies, should fund this noble cause as a way of giving back to society.
Funding the programme adequately could mean that Covid-19 will be kicked out of Kenya. Cases of opportunistic diseases like malaria and pneumonia will be rarefied since they thrive in bodies whose immune systems have been compromised. People will be healthier, hence fall ill less often.
Besides, the roll-out of the vaccine means few or no people will go to hospital. The premiums paid to the insurers will not be spent as compensation or to foot medical bills; hence, high profits.
Insurers rely on the fact that not all of their clients are ever going to claim. They use the premiums from the majority of policyholders to pay the few claims lodged. That is called ‘spreading the risk’.
With a healthier populace, the economy will thrive. More people will opt for insurance and insurers will get better profits. A win-win situation.
Dr Turuthi (PhD), a high school deputy principal, is an educational communication and technology expert. email@example.com.