By simply dialing *909# on their mobile phones and follow subsequent instructions, subscribers of the community-based health insurance scheme, best known as Mutuelle de Santé, will now be able to pay their premiums digitally, from the comforts of their home.
Officials at the Rwanda Social Security Board say the new payment system will start next fiscal – in July – and it will save time and money since Mutuelle subscribers will no longer have to go to the bank to pay premiums and to subsequently present bank slips to RSSB agents at health centres – who would in turn issue them with Mutuelle cards.
Under the new system, subscribers will no longer be required to present Mutuelle cards as all the data will now be accessed online.
The development is part of broader efforts to ensure delivery of crucial government services via the Irembo online portal.
This new system will not tamper with the existing framework under which the Government pays premiums for the most vulnerable of society, while the other users will pay according to their respective categories under the social stratification programme – Ubudehe.
There is no doubt that the online-based payment system and access to all the vital Mutuelle details using the national ID represent a major step forward toward improving service delivery as far as the Mutuelle scheme is concerned.
However, it is imperative that citizens are thoroughly sensitised on how to use the new system early enough so that by the time it’s effected everyone is already familiar with the new process.
As well as the community-based health workers, grassroots leaders and other stakeholders need to swing into action and sensitise the public about the new system. This will prevent subscriptions from falling once the new mode of payment comes into force.
But authorities should also devise strategies to ensure that any technology failure in the new system will not affect delivery of Mutuelle services. There is need to use the next couple of months to fully prepare for the new system.