Government has cleared all arrears the community health insurance, commonly known as Mutuelle de Santé, accumulated before it was placed under the management of the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB).
This was confirmed to The New Times by the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning; Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana.
Before the merger in 2015, government owed a total of Rwf13.5bn, which included funds owed to different hospitals, health centres, and district pharmacies for medical check-ups and drugs offered to Mutuelle de Santé subscribers.
This was seen as one of the burdens that the pension body would have to grapple with as they took over management of the scheme to which, currently, 84 per cent Rwandans are subscribers.
MP Georgette Rutayisire, who sits on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony, tasked Minister Ndagijimana to explain why some hospitals and pharmacies were still owed money, something she said puts patients’ health at risk.
“Some hospitals will tell you there is still an issue of arrears and these hospitals have receipts. I wonder if there is a communication issue. I would like to request you to look into it or we risk having dysfunctional facilities because of this,” she said.
In response, Minister Ndagijimana said that upon transferring Mutuelle de Santé services from the Ministry of Health to RSSB, a thorough audit was conducted to ascertain what the situation was in district health centres and referral hospitals.
Upon completion of the audit, Ndagijimana said that the Government cleared the arrears.
However, he pointed out that during this process, there were some miscalculations and some of the health centers and hospitals got more money than they were owed while others got less than they were owed.
“Those who received more were contacted and asked to refund the money. It took a little longer but they agreed to pay back the money in installments. Most of the money has been refunded and we were paying these other hospitals their balance slowly by slowly. From 2016, we can’t say that we have arrears,” he said.
He blamed some hospitals’ sluggishness in the verification process, which he said causes payment gaps between three to four months.
“There are hospitals that delay to submit their invoices and there are those that require returning to hospitals to verify because they come in with errors. Most of these invoices delay in these processes, but the money to pay is always ready,” he said.
Although Rwandans pay their own premiums under Mutuelle de Santé on an annual basis, the Government often injects between Rwf1bn to Rwf3bn to fill the gap.