New Community Health Insurance Scheme to Target Village SACCOs, Boda Boda Rider Groups

A new community-based health insurance scheme has launched targeting to offer health coverage to Village SACCOs, Boda Boda riders, or those already in other organized insurance schemes. 

The scheme, Streamline Ubuntu, according to its Executive Director Samuel Mugisha says those that enroll will be paying monthly premiums of 2,000 Shillings and access healthcare in various Catholic and Protestant Medical Bureau-run health facilities across the country. 

The administrators of the scheme say they are starting with fifteen hospitals selected from across the country which will have an ICT system installed to capture data such that patients will be seen anywhere at those facilities and health workers will have access to their medical data including investigational requests such as scans and x-rays.

Mugisha says this will help them ensure health workers don’t order unnecessary laboratory tests or offer prescriptions that may be unnecessary for particular patients based on their medical history.

However, this scheme comes at a time Uganda has so far failed to introduce a universal health insurance scheme as an enabling National Health Insurance law. While a bill was passed by Parliament in 2021, the piece of the proposed law was withdrawn shortly amidst controversy.

According to the Ministry of Health, the bill wasn’t addressing all key areas that needed attention.  But Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director of Curative Services in the ministry said consultations on the new piece of law have been concluded and it will be forwarded to cabinet soon.

However, it should be noted that community health insurance schemes had been excluded from the botched bill as it wasn’t clear how premiums would be picked from informal groups whose flow of income is unknown and many times unpredictable.

But, Olaro says they have picked lessons from insurance schemes that have stood the test of time giving an example of the Kisizi insurance scheme in rural western Uganda which has been running for the last twenty-five years.

He says people need to contribute money to cater for their healthcare however small when they are still healthy such that the challenge of healthcare bills driving people to abject poverty is tackled.

Now, the new scheme is initially targeting to add 150,000 people in the next two years.

Moses Mugume, the administrator of the Kisizi Community Health Insurance scheme commended the initiative of introducing electronic medical records keeping that doctors can refer to. He says that they have faced the challenge of unnecessary expenditure as unscrupulous doctors tend to prescribe all sorts of medicines once they realize the patient is seeking care through insurance.

Mugume says the scheme which currently has more than 40,000 subscribers also faced the challenge of clients always walking into hospitals with all sorts of trivial complaints and minor sicknesses depleting funds in the pool which should have helped those who need them seriously. To, him it was until they introduced co-payment that the problem was reduced.

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