EDITORIAL: Universal medical insurance coverage was a well-thought-out policy

There was a recent conversation with someone who experienced the best and worst of medical insurance.

Recently his son had an accident at home that needed a minor operation, after visiting several medical facilities, the only available options were limited.

The first hospital with the facilities would only be available the next day. At the country’s lead hospital he was told the procedure would cost half a million francs because he had not renewed his medical insurance!

Luckily, the person was directed to another expert out of town where he was charged nearly a tenth of the cost quoted above.

But previously, he had experienced real benefits of medical insurance. When his wife gave birth at one of the oldest hospitals in town he expected a long bill only to be told he needed to pay “250”. 

He thought the figure mentioned was in “thousands” (i.e. Rwf250,000) only to be told that it was just that; Rwf250! His medical insurance was up to date.

So, one can understand the value of having 90 per cent of the population with medical insurance coverage. That also explains why Rwanda was the third recipient of the Outstanding Achievements in Social Security Award given out every three years by the International Social Security Association. The previous recipients were China and Brazil.

Rwanda does not measure the successes of its policies by the international accolades it receives, but the positive changes they have on the population; the drastic reduction in mortality rates and preventable diseases that have increased life expectancy. However, international recognition is an indication that Rwanda is doing something right.

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