Officials from the Ministry of Local Government and Social Affairs (MINALOC) and Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) have stepped up efforts to sensitise citizens to pay their health insurance premiums for the current financial year.
Reports from RSSB say the current subscription rate to Mutuelle de Santé, the country’s community-based health insurance (CBHI), is at 55.3 per cent.
Given that the targeted rate is 100 per cent, campaigns to sensitise Rwandans to pay their health insurance premiums is underway, with officials explaining the process through all possible channels.
Déogratias Ntigurirwa, division manager for CBHI mobilisation and registration at RSSB, told The New Times last week that the agency’s practical target is to see at least 85 per cent of Mutuelle subscribers pay by the end of December.
If that target can be achieved in the next five months, it will be a great feat since the last fiscal year ended with 81.5 per cent subscription rate.
“People today have a better understanding about the benefits of Mutuelle de Santé and more efforts have been made to promote the scheme,” Ntigurirwa said.
But there are challenges in the way that might hinder the subscription process if not addressed, including poor mentality among former indigents who graduated from poverty and now have to pay subscription by themselves as well as people who didn’t bother to participate in date entry so they can be classified under Ubudehe social stratification.
Mutuelle fees are paid depending on household Ubudehe category, with people from households in category 1 considered as indigents whose fees are paid by the Government, at Rwf2,000 per household member, while households in category 2 and 3 pay Rwf3,000.
Households in category 4 pay Rwf7,000 per family member.
With results from the new Ubudehe social stratification completed in 2015 indicating that about 7 per cent of Mutuelle subscribers had graduated from being indigents to ‘well-off,’ they now need to find the Rwf3,000 and pay own Mutuelle premiums.
“The challenge is their reluctance to pay because they used to access healthcare without paying. It’s quite difficult to convince these people that they have graduated from poverty and now have to pay for themselves,” Ntigurirwa said.
Another challenge that he noted in the collection of Mutuelle fees is the fact that Ubudehe results were communicated late in the last fiscal year and now some people are just finding out in which category they belong, which has affected the process.
To address the issue, RSSB has partnered with MINALOC to tap into local officials’ service to help people know their Ubudehe categories and help them process payments for Mutuelle fees.
“We want to work more with local officials to ensure that people know their Ubudehe categories easily and pay for their Mutuelle fees,” Ntigurirwa said.
Last weekend, Local Government minister Francis Kaboneka joined officials from RSSB and the Ministry of Health to explain the process to identify one’s Ubudehe category and proceed with paying Mutuelle fees.
The officials interacted with the population through a radio and televised talk show aired by the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency on Sunday and rebroadcast yesterday.
With people knowing their Ubudehe categories, RSSB officials say, paying Mutuelle fees will be faster in the future because they will be able to plan ahead and save money for the health insurance
The Mutuelle de Santé scheme targets to cover the majority of Rwandans, at least 9.6 million people, especially those living in rural areas and earn meagre income.
RSSB took over the management of Mutuelle de Santé in July, last year, as part of a solution to the dip in subscriptions to the scheme and poor management of its funds.
The two flaws had led to debts and poor service delivery to subscribers because they couldn’t access services such as the medicine they needed from hospitals and pharmacies in the country.
RSSB hopes to attract people back to the scheme by improving its financial management, which is critical in the running of the fund, and paying hospitals and pharmacies on time.