Many Kenyans do not have access to adequate basic healthcare for themselves and their families despite the fact that access to quality health care is a constitutional right. Only about 20% of Kenyans have access to medical coverage since public health insurance was made available in the 1960s, putting a huge financial strain on some of Kenya’s poorest.
Just last week, Citizen TV did a news report on the failing health care system in Kenya especially for cancer patients who would travel long distances to acquire treatment at the largest referral hospital in Kenya, the Kenyatta National Hospital. Moreover, most of these people’s healthcare spending comes from the out-of-pocket expenditures that put a major strain on their already low incomes.
This now seems to be changing as the unprecedented rise of mobiles & mobile money in Kenya now has the potential to radically change healthcare as well.
The M-TIBA mobile health wallet is a new health payment platform developed by CarePay, PharmAccess and Safaricom that allows users to send, save and receive funds to access healthcare services from the convenience and easy accessibility of their mobile phones. The national roll out of M-TIBA is underway, with 45,000 people already registered and 60 healthcare providers in Nairobi now operational. The first outlets – in Kisumu, Siaya and Mombasa have been signed up this week.
CEO of Safaricom Limited, Bob Collymore said that the new service has the power to transform essential healthcare services for millions of Kenyans – particularly women and children who suffer the most when it comes to matters concerning healthcare. He also said that M-TIBA would eliminate the dreaded option of people going to the extreme lengths of selling their belongings to pay for basic healthcare.
Kees van Lede, Chief Commercial Officer, CarePay Ltd, echoed his words saying that M-TIBA is a simple and powerful tool for healthcare savings, payments and bonus schemes and it would give Kenyans more control of their healthcare as opposed to countless situations where the vulnerable are weighed down by health care debts. This would also be contributed by the fact that each week, more clinics would be added to more areas, thus reaching more people who are in need of affordable healthcare.
To encourage healthcare savings, the Pfizer Foundation is funding the first M-TIBA bonus scheme. This sees the first 100,000 users – who register and deposit Kshs. 100, or more, per month – receiving a monthly bonus amount of Kshs. 50 for up to 12 months. UAP Old Mutual Health Insurance is also offering them 12 months personal accident cover for the principal member and one spouse, up to the value of Kshs. 8,000.
Funds on M-TIBA can only be used at selected healthcare providers, who form part of the M-TIBA network. PharmAccess works with these clinics and hospitals to improve standards and business management. And they sign up to internationally recognized ‘SafeCare’ standards, which aim to ensure better quality and patient safety.
How M-TIBA works:
Users can be registered on M-TIBA through an M-TIBA agent, Tor self-register by dialing *253# on their mobile phones. The customer care center can be reached by calling toll-free on 0800 721253.
From there, you can now set funds aside regularly using your phone according to your income. Deposits can be made from as little as Kshs 10. Registration into M-TIBA is free and there are NO transaction costs from your M-PESA to your M-TIBA as well as at the facility healthcare when you pay.
There is also an M-TIBA Bonus scheme which is available to the first 100,000 users to sign up on M-TIBA before the end of 2016 and save Kshs. 100 or more on their M-TIBA. The bonus scheme is valid for 12 months from the day of the first deposit, and in each month the user deposits a minimum of Kshs. 100 monthly a bonus of Kshs. 50 is added to the user’s balance. Funds saved in M-TIBA can only be used to access healthcare at selected healthcare facilities.
Users who register and save on M-TIBA during the bonus scheme period will also benefit from a Personal Accident Cover being managed by UAP Insurance. This will cover the principal member and one spouse. The spouse or next of kin must be registered as the dependent on M-TIBA at the start of the cover. The value of the Personal Accident cover is Kshs. 8,000 and covers death as a result of an accident to the full limit of Kshs. 8,000 and Permanent Total Disability as a result of an accident to 50% of the limit for the principal member or spouse.