In June 2017, Vodacom, Jubilee Insurance, Edgepoint Digital, and SHOPS Plus partnered to launch Jamii, a mobile-based health insurance product that provides health care coverage to low-income individuals in Tanzania. The platform, which is transforming the way people access health insurance, enables registration via mobile phones using an SMS-based system.
“We wanted to be able to increase access to health care services as soon as people need it,” says Mbogo Bunyi, senior private sector advisor for SHOPS Plus.
Jamii does more than just give clients easy and affordable access to health insurance, it streamlines the entire process. When a client registers for Jamii, they can purchase health insurance using mobile money, which allows them to access health services from a provider. The provider submits the claim to the insurance company and receives payment via mobile money as well. This means that the registration, claims, and payment processes are all done using mobile technology with the client’s phone number as the unique identifier. It cuts down the time it takes for people to access health care from days to hours and reduces the lag time for providers to receive payment from months to days.
“In Tanzania, 80 percent of households have access to a mobile phone,” Bunyi said. “The ideal or gold standard is to have everyone accessing health care services, so in order to achieve this goal, the more options that clients or patients have, the better.”
As a micro-health insurance product, how much clients pay as a premium to access coverage is lower than other conventional insurance, making Jamii attainable by the many low-income individuals living in this developing country. Although still a new concept, especially in households where health insurance has never been an option, Jamii has found success in simplifying the process and likening the platform to a well-understood and well-consumed product in Tanzania: mobile phones. As part of its strategic messaging, Jamii relates purchasing airtime to make phone calls to purchasing health insurance to get access to health care services as a way to market the new insurance.
Jamii supplements the country’s National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) by adding points of service delivery and delivering a new way that people can access health care services. With the introduction of private sector facilities and available private health care providers in Tanzania, Jamii not only complements the options of service delivery points that NHIF currently offers, but it makes it easier for clients to find places where they can access care as soon as they need it.