The Ministry of Local Government has launched a new campaign aimed at increasing the number of subscribers to the Community Health-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) christened “Mutuelle Month”.
The campaign which was flagged off Friday at the ministry’s headquarters in Kacyiru will run through all the 30 districts for the next two months with several events aimed at mobilising the population on the benefits of the universal health insurance (Mutuelle de Sante).
According to officials, the scheme had previously faced setbacks but now it is on a steady rise to hit the ‘dream target” to have 100 percent Rwandans with medical insurance, either under mutuelle or any other cover.
“Currently we are at 84 percent. Even though there has been an improvement compared to the previous year, we are still mindful of the remaining 16 percent,” Alvera Mukabaramba, State minister in charge of social affairs and social protection, said.
According to Mukabaramba, premiums have increased by 3 percent from an estimated 81 percent in 2015/2016. In the Financial Year 2014/15, just 75 per cent of Rwandans subscribed to Mutuelle de Santé.
She also noted that an additional Rwf7 billion worth of premiums have been added to the insurance scheme this year.
“Despite some districts doing well in having big numbers of subscription some districts are actually below 80 per cent. We still have a lot to do hence the need for this campaign,” Mukabaramba added.
Mutuelle premiums are paid depending on household’s Ubudehe category (social stratification), and people from households in category one are considered indigents and their fees are paid by the government, at Rwf2,000 per household member.
Members of households in categories two and three pay Rwf3,000 while those in category 4, about 0.5 per cent of the country’s population, pay Rwf7, 000 per family member.
Mutuelle de Santé, is the most common health insurance for Rwandans, covering at least 9.6 million people, especially those living in rural areas with meagre income.
Despite being the cheapest and inclusive medical insurance, the scheme has in the recent past faced criticism from some subscribers who render it ineffective in terms of the medical bills they cover.
Besides that, the scheme faced managerial challenges until it was moved to Rwanda Social Security Board.
There are some reports that some of the subscribers are yet to receive their cards, just one month to the closure of the fiscal year, although officials have promised serious reforms going forward.
Dr Solange Hakiba, the deputy director general of RSSB in charge benefits acknowledges that there could be a few gaps but she is positive about the future of the universal health insurance.
“Mutuelle still has a few challenges but I can certainly say that we are in a better state now and getting better with the help of all stakeholders. One thing that can make this insurance scheme better is through early subscription. In so doing, better and timely services will be offered too,” Hakiba said.
She also noted that some of the new initiatives such as mobile subscription, known as MobiCash, has been added to ease the payment process.