Mobile-based health insurance product wins 2018 Digital Development Award

Group of Jamii promoters huddled up and listening to instructions from their supervisor
This is the second award Jamii has received since the launch of the pilot program in June 2017. | Credit: SHOPS Plus

USAID’s Global Development Lab selected Jamii, a mobile-based health insurance product for low-income and at-risk individuals in Tanzania, for the 2018 Digital Development award. Jamii, which means “community” in Swahili, provides inpatient and outpatient benefits, including HIV detection and treatment, to supplement government-sponsored schemes. 

The product and its technology platform emerged from a partnership between Edgepoint Digital, a digital services intermediary, Vodacom, a leading mobile telecom company, and Jubilee Insurance Company. The pilot program was launched in four regions of Tanzania in June 2017 with support from SHOPS Plus.  

The award recognizes USAID missions, bureaus, offices, and partners that are embracing cutting-edge technologies and advanced data analysis to accelerate impact. This is the second award Jamii has secured since its launch, receiving the number one spot on the list of top African startups in 2017 awarded by the African Business Review. 

We want as many people as possible accessing the healthcare that they need at the time that they need it. In Tanzania, 80 percent of households have access to a mobile phone. The ideal or gold standard is to have everyone accessing healthcare services, so in order to achieve this goal, the more options that clients or patients have, the better.”  - Mbogo Bunyi, senior private sector advisor for SHOPS Plus

Organizers standing on a stage at the launch of the pilot program
Bunyi and the SHOPS Plus team in Tanzania on the stage at the launch event in 2017. | Credit: SHOPS Plus

The technology platform, which is transforming the way people access health insurance, enables registration via mobile phones using an SMS-based system. The amount clients pay as a premium to be covered under Jamii is lower than for conventional insurance, making the product affordable for large numbers of low-income Tanzanians who may be accessing health insurance for the first time. 

To give clients easy access to affordable health insurance, Jamii streamlines the entire insurance process. Registration, claims, and payments are all done using mobile technology with the client’s phone number as the unique identifier. This cuts down the time it takes for people to access health care from days to hours and reduces the time providers wait to receive payment from months to days.

During its partnership with SHOPS Plus, from June to December 2017, Jamii Africa insured more than 5,100 Tanzanians. It is currently building on this experience to develop and implement a sustainable strategy to scale up across the country.

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Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus is a five-year cooperative agreement (AID-OAA-A-15-00067) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. The information provided on this website is not official U.S. government information and does not represent the views or positions of USAID or the U.S. government.