The Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) has said that it has not yet been consulted on the ongoing plans to introduce a National Health Insurance Scheme that will require all Ugandans above 18 years to contribute to the scheme before accessing health services across the country.
According to Ibrahim Lubega Kaddunabbi the IRA Chief Executive Officer, they hope the government will consult them when the Bill introducing the scheme is formally before parliament.
“As far as the National Health Insurance Scheme Bill 2019, and as the people supposed to advise the government on insurance matters, we have not been consulted.
“We are just hoping that this scheme will not have negative impacts on the new innovations in the insurance sector but rather complement them,” said Lubega during the official unveiling of a combined Medical and Life Insurance cover dubbed MediLife by Orient Bank in partnership with Prudential East Africa and the International Air Ambulance (IAA).
The Scheme that was approved by Cabinet in June this year is a must-pay-for by all Ugandans and foreigners in the country. Every contributor shall upon payment of the prescribed contribution, be issued with a card for purposes of identification and verification to access healthcare benefits under the scheme.
However, underprivileged people such as the poor who can hardly earn $1.5 (about Shs5,462.95) a day, people with disability (PWDS), the elderly, orphans, and street children will not pay any fee but will get insurance cards from the government to access health services.
The Medilife Insurance Product by Orient Bank, Prudential East Africa and International Air Ambulance (IAA) combines both Medical and Life Insurance products into one cover. This is a totally new product compared to what is already on the market which separates Medical and Life Insurance into two products.
Julius Kakeeto, Managing Director of Orient Bank Limited while speaking at the launch of the cover said the move is aimed at providing affordable health solutions to not only its customers but also their dependants.
“While the healthcare system in Uganda has improved over the years, it has also become more expensive given the rising cost of living.
“The purpose of the Medilife Insurance cover is to lessen the burden on our customers who have people they care for, enabling them to save more while ensuring that their dependents have access to the best medical facilities in the country.
“One may ask why a bank would be interested in health care. The health and general wellbeing of our customers is important to us. So we combined this interest with the opportunity that came with the change of law that enabled banks to sell insurance services. Our customers can now do all their banking and insurance business at Orient Bank,” said Kakeeto.
Arjun Mallik, the Managing Director Prudential East Africa said, “We are pleased to partner with Orient Bank and IAA on this product, MediLife because this partnership is a reinforcement of our mantle: ‘Let’s face life together’. As Julius has said, we need a healthy population for the economy to thrive and therefore any honest innovation towards ensuring this happens is definitely one that we are excited to be part of and support.”
Lubega added that the insurance sector continues to grow but is still plagued by a lack of awareness and understanding of the various insurance products available on the market.
“As an industry, last year we realized growth across the board. We saw life insurance business grow from Shs168bn in 2017 to Shs216.9billion in 2018 while Health Membership Organizations (HMO’s) grew from Shs52.7bn in 2017 to Shs69.1bn in 2018. This means there’s an increased appreciation and therefore uptake of life and health insurance across the country.
“However, based on a 2018 Finance Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU) Thematic Report on Insurance, 59% of our population remains uninsured in any form.
“We need to change this narrative. This is why we, as a regulatory body, embrace new avenues of reaching these people and we are more than pleased with the new bold step Orient Bank has taken to bring our vision to life.”
Orient Bank received a Bancassurance license from the Insurance Regulatory Authority in January 2018 to sell insurance products in Uganda.
BY PAUL TENTENA