Mobile Based Savings Plans That Are Providing A New Means To Cover Health Care Needs

Written by Wellington Ayugi

There has been an unprecedented growth in mobile money technology in Kenya for the last few years. Research has revealed that more than 50% of the country’s population is earning less than KES. 250 per day have access to mobile devices. As of September 2015, the country had transacted KES. 2.7 billion via mobile money in the previous year.

When it comes to our healthcare in Kenya, there are many people who pay cash because not many people have access to insurance. Some people even go the extra mile and ask their family and friends for soft loans, or decide to self-medicate, which can affect livelihoods and personal health. For many of us, trips to the hospital can be a financial strain.

Today, mobile service providers have identified this gap. In the industry, there has been a steady increase of pilot programs that leverage mobile money platforms in order to increase access to affordable healthcare.

Safaricom has teamed up with CarePay and PharmAccess to develop M-TIBA. This is a mobile money transfer service that allows users to send, save and receive funds to access health care services using their mobile phones.

Mobile money savings plans such as this have helped people save money for their health. In order to encourage people to save,mobile service providers have offered various incentives.

So How Do Mobile Money Based Plans Work?

Mobile money based saving has taken the Kenyan market by storm. Mobile money savings platforms are usually applied via basic mobile savings and mobile banking saving systems.

The mobile money savings plan works by either:

  • A Basic Mobile Savings: This is the use of standard mobile money platforms such as MPESA to save funds with no interest earnings for use during a health care need;
  • Or Mobile Banking Savings Scheme: In this case, bank transactions like access to credit and money transfers are accessed in real-time through mobile phones.

In the first option, consumers can access healthcare services directly by use of mobile money accounts joined to savings accounts and offered by inclusive enterprises.

The second model works by having inclusive enterprises partner with third-party firms such as network providers and banks to offer healthcare services and products on credit.

Mobile money health savings plans are attractive to Kenyans because they allow for flexibility and are convenient. They have emerged as an additional option apart from formal and informal ways of savings.

Mobile Money Based Saving Products

Here are a few organizations that offer mobile money health savings plans in the country:

  1. PharmAccess: The organization runs an initiative known as Health Wallet that gives users the opportunity to save for health care expenses by depositing funds into specified accounts using their phones. The product then allows customers to receive funds from friends, family, government, individual services and donors. The money can be used on many products and in many health facilities. The initiative works in partnership with mobile network provider Safaricom.
  2. Changamka Micro-Health Limited: Safaricom and Changamka Micro-Health partnered to form M-Kadi. M-Kadi participant’s savings are stored in virtual accounts hosted by Safaricom. Changamka Micro-Health introduced two savings products; M-Kadi for Family Health and M-Kadi for Maternity. Customers can access these products at health centers or through health workers using mobile devices.

Bundling complimentary mobile money health services savings platforms with free messaging services educating people on the benefits of health care provides customers with even more incentives to save.

Some mobile based saving providers give customers access to an overview of the money available for a diverse range of health services.

For individuals who are yet to embrace formal means of savings, but are worried about their health needs, this mobile money health based savings is perfect for your future health concerns.

Do you have a health based savings plan? Would you consider a mobile phone health savings plan? Share your comments with us below.

Learn More:

  1. How Kenyans are embracing mobile technology to access healthcare
  2. MPESA and access to Health in Kenya

About the author

Wellington Ayugi

Wellington Ayugi handles Business Development at Covered and has a passion for personal finance, microfinance, and developments in financial technology