The New Times (Kigali)

12 November 2012

Rwanda: Govt to Pay Health Insurance for the Vulnerable This Month

The government has urged local leaders to embark on a rigorious campaign to sensitise residents on the need to pay their health insurance cover.

The minister of Local Government James Musoni and his Health couterpart Dr Agnes Binagwaho, made the remarks during a meeting convened in Kigali yesterday to discuss health sector programmes.

The call comes amid reports that 38 percent of Rwandans are yet to pay for this year's community medical insurance commonly known as Mutuelle de Santé.

"Every Rwandan should have health insurance cover. Once he/she is able to pay for it, leaders from all levels should make it a priority so that by November 20, the Ministry of Health will have paid for those in category I and II and by Novemebr 30, those who are able to pay for themselves should have paid," said Musoni.

The participants noted that the categorisation of beneficiaries in the medical scheme, overlooked the economic status of some people which may be the probable root cause of failure for beneficiaries to meet their health cover.

Anasie Urusaro, the official in charge of health insurance in Muhanga District, Southern province said: "After realising the low rate of payment of medical insurance, we noticed that some of the residents were wrongly categorised yet they are unable to pay for their premiums while others were placed into lower categories yet they can afford to pay for themselves."

The Kigali City vice mayor in charge of social affairs, Hope Tumukunde, attributed the reluctance to pay the medical insurance premium on difficulties among beneficiaries to access drugs from hospitals.

However, the Ministry of Health refuted the claim that beneficiaries are compelled to buy drugs from pharmacies using their own funds, calling on residents to report any such incidence so that they are reimbursed.

The ministry subsidises medical cover for beneficiaries in category One and Two which comprise 25 percent of all beneficiaries who normally cannot afford to pay their own premium.

There are three categories of medical insurance cover. These include people considered to be very poor who pay an annual charge of Rwf2,000 that is settled by government on their behalf.

The rest are expected to pay for themselves with charges standing at Rwf3,000 and Rwf7,000, respectively based on category.

Meanwhile, participants emphasised the importance of cleanliness and hygiene at the household level to prevent diseases.

In order to fight against malnutrition, they also pledged to ensure that, all vulnerable and needy people in categories 1 and 2 of Ubudehe have kitchen gardens clean toilets before the end of the year.

The meeting brought together officials from the ministries of Local Government and Health, Kigali city as well as all Provinces, Rwanda Social Security Board, Genocide Survivors' Fund -FARG-, and Rwanda Local Development Support Fund.

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