GA taps bottom of pyramid

September 22, 2009
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 22 – A new medical insurance product that targets the low income earners has been launched in Nairobi.

The e-medical card, is an initiative between Changamka Microhealth Limited and General Accidents Insurance.

Speaking during the launch Changamka Microhealth Chief Executive Officer Samuel Agutu said with 80 percent of the Kenyan population excluded from formal healthcare, the e-medical card would retail for under Sh500 and would make health care affordable to all.

Mr Agutu added the card allows one the ease of planning one’s family members’ health care.

“When you buy a Changamka card anybody can use it be it family, employee or community so long you have enough money in the card,” he said.

The Changamka card covers medicine, lab and consultation expenses and is topped up via M-PESA.

The Changamka e-card costs Sh50 plus a minimum value of one hospital visit, Sh450.  Maximum top up value for the card is Sh4500 (equal to ten hospital visits).

Insurance Regulatory Authority Chairman Steve Mainda said he was pleased with the use of IT solutions to deliver cost effective services with the aim of realising goals set under Vision 2030.

“As the frontiers of IT are pushed forward, we in Kenya ought to embrace it to deliver services that reach the lower end of the pyramid,” Mr Mainda said.

He said the card would be successful since it covered a segment that had been for long overlooked for formal medical insurance.

“It takes care of those that are not ordinarily cared for by the bigger hospitals and insurance companies for the simple reason that they cannot afford healthcare,” he said.

“The sub-total of the lower pyramid is larger than that at the top and if you do the math you can see the product is going to be a hit,” he said in reference to the large population that is underprivileged.

Mr Mainda was however adamant that strict regulatory standards had been put in place to avoid any fraudulent dealings.

The Changamka card is currently available in Nairobi with plans to roll out to strategic locations countrywide in three months.

“Right now we have seven partnering hospital but we expect that number to be around fifty by January next year,” he said.

However the card does not cover chronic ailments and Mr Agutu adds that people will have to off-set other charges not covered by the scheme.

“What we are doing is developing the second level of card that can take care of a higher level of intervention,” he revealed.

The Chief Executive added they were working on a card that covers in-patient treatment.

“We don’t only want you to go to the hospital when the pain persists but you can now go because you can afford it.”

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