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Access to healthcare remains a huge problem in most parts of Africa. In Kenya, the number could be as high as 38.8-million people — 97% of the 43.18-million population — that don’t have access to health insurance. Conversely, 23-million people in Kenya, 74% of the population, use mobile money.
Now Kenya’s largest mobile operator, Safaricom, has recognised this correlation and announced the launch of a ‘micro-insurance’ healthcare product for users of M-Pesa — the wildly popular mobile money solution. The service is in partnership with Changamka Micro Insurance and investment firm Britam. The product, called Linda Jamii, is targeting around one million subscriptions, mainly in low-income areas using the M-Pesa platform as its premium collection platform.
Customers will be able to subscribe to the insurance service at “an annual premium of KSh12 000 [about US$140] for cover worth KSh290 000 [about US$3500]” reports ITweb Africa.
Linda Jamii will cover everything from dental to maternity, optical, in-out patients, and hospital and funeral expenses. It is currently only available in Nairobi but Safaricom plans to have it across the country by the end of the year, providing access to 1000 hospitals.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said at the launch event, “one of the major problems that we have in Kenya is that many people cannot afford quality healthcare. We have evaluated this and developed a product that reaches out to ordinary people.”
According to Collymore the pilot phase brought in 8 000 customers.
“It is a business line that we feel has potential. We do not expect much in the initial years but once the system is in place we expect it to be a significant contributor to our business,” said Benson Wairegi, chief executive officer Britam.
Linda Jamii will cover people from age 18-75 and children under 18 can be covered through their parents.
Collymore said that “Linda Jamii is to medical insurance what M-Pesa is to financial services. They both promote inclusion.”