RSSB to phase out health insurance cards

Patients wait for treatment at Muganza Health Center in Rusizi District. Sam Ngendahimana.

If you are a subscriber to Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) medical insurance, soon you won’t be required to carry a medical insurance card while seeking healthcare services from health facilities.

This because the Board is shifting to fingerprint or facial recognition technology as a replacement for health insurance cards for all subscribers, including community based health insurance, mutuelle de santé).


Facial recognition is a method of identifying or verifying the identity of a person using their face, such in photos, video, or in real-time.


Fingerprint technology uses a mark made by an impression of the friction ridges in the skin of a finger, such as through digital scanning, in order to provide unique or distinctive pattern that produces unambiguous evidence of a specific individual.


Richard Tusabe, the Director General of RSSB, said that the process could take 18 months and is expected to cost Rwf4 billion.

The move is part of RSSB’s efforts to improve efficiency in its medical insurance division, which is vulnerable to fraudulent practices from healthcare providers.

The health insurance card, commonly known as Mutuelles de Sante. Net photo.

Dubious healthcare providers have in the past taken advantage of the weak system by RSSB to bill for medical services they never provided to patients plus duplicating medical bills from other health facilities.

“The benefits are huge when you look at the money we have been losing and inefficient services. We can break even (on the Rwf4 billion investment) within one year,” Tusabe said.

RSSB is in talks with the National Identification Agency (NIDA) and the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) to support in the process, he disclosed.

“There are technologies such as face recognition, and fingerprint. But today, people are still carrying (RAMA) medical insurance cards with them to get treated. We want to shift from that,” he disclosed.

RSSB says that ascertaining the value of medical bills from all health facilities manually is tedious, time consuming and prone to errors.

As a result, even settling the medical bills has been taking long – with an average of three months.

Dr. Violette Ayingeneye, the Director General of Kibuye District in Karongi District, said that paying bill is five months after a medical bill has been submitted.

“Currently, a person comes with their medical insurance card and we treat them. The use of fingerprint technology to access medical services is a new thing for us. I don’t know about it.” she said.  

In the 2018/19 financial year, RSSB spent Rwf100.9 billion on paying benefits to members to all schemes it manages including pension, maternity leave benefits, community-based health insurance, and medical scheme. 

That disbursement represents 109 per cent of the Rwf95.4 billion that was expected to be spent in the same year, according to figures from RSSB.

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