What you need to know:
- Nearly 17.2 million Africans are pushed below the poverty line annually due to out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures, according to WHO.
- Bluewave app enables users can enrol, get informed and make a claim on their insurance policy on their mobile devices.
Joseph Abok’s wife was diagnosed with kidney failure. He needed Sh36, 000 for his wife’s treatment. Because he did not have the money, he opted for a fundraiser for treatment and dialysis.
Unfortunately, two weeks later, the fisherman had only managed to raise Sh12,000. And so out of desperation, Joseph was forced to sell his fishing boat to pay the bill.
Despite this, his wife died undergoing treatment, forcing him to fundraise again for her burial.
To his surprise, the community raised more than double of what he needed to take his wife to hospital and potentially save her life.
Joseph’s story paints a picture of how most Kenyans handle risk. For Joseph, the only other way out would have been through medical insurance. But, like 80 per cent of Kenyans, Joseph did not have a medical cover.
For the likes of Joseph, most conventional health insurance products are very expensive. They are also quite complicated and not many understand how they work.
Joseph, for instance, would have to travel more than 10km to the city centre, fill in very complicated forms, and expose himself or his family to complicated medical tests before he would be able to access the insurance.
Adelaide Odhiambo, an insurance service provider, says in her many years of service, almost 90 per cent of the people she has dealt with have either come to her with a story of a negative experience with insurance or knew someone who was not happy with it. Due to this negative experiences, most people are reluctant to sign up for the products.
“Low benefits, a very subjective panel, fraud, poor service quality and claim disputes with hospitals are some of the reasons not many people willingly sign up for insurance. This leaves insurance penetration at below three per cent, which means there is still a huge gap that needs resolving,” Odhiambo tells HealthyNation.
Indeed, nearly 17.2 million Africans are pushed below the poverty line annually due to out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures, according to the World Health Organization.
Odhiambo maintains that to avert such crises, authorities have to think about developing insurance products that are more affordable, easier to access, and easier to understand and use.
She, for instance, has taken it upon herself, together with some partners, to develop an insurance product dubbed ‘Bluewave Insurance’, which enables users to access medical cover at whatever premium they can afford and within a selected panel that they prefer. The product also covers Covid-19.
By dialling a USSD code or by downloading the Bluewave app, users can enrol, get informed and make a claim on their insurance policy on their mobile devices. “This product will not only bridge the cost barrier, but also provide an education feature that will help educate users on what they need to know about insurance,” said Odhiambo.
The product has been adopted by nearly 30, 000 customers across Kenya and Malawi.
Odhiambo called on the government to provide a more relaxed regulatory environment that would make penetration of such products possible.