With premiums at only 1 U.S. dollar a month, is Jamii Insurance the best health insurance for Tanzania’s poor?
By: Ringo Bones
Even though they badly needed it, health insurance is a novel luxury in Tanzania. The penetration of health insurance is as low as 4.5-percent, which means that the majority of Tanzania’s low-income and informal workers do not have access to insurance and struggle to pay for health services. As a recent add-on to the company’s financial cooperative groups, Jamii Insurance has been recently hailed by its clients for being able to provide top notch healthcare while only asking for a premium of only 1 U.S. dollar a month. Best of all, it is payable via a mobile phone payment system like M-Pesa.
The low income population of Tanzania – 47 million people in total – earns less than 70 U.S. dollars a month. For them, income is also dynamic, especially to informal workers / self employed who sometimes earns 200 U.S. dollars for this month but virtually none the next which also makes having a sizable savings account in a bank a luxury. This population in Tanzania also suffers from high rate of maternal deaths due to unsupervised home births and death from curable diseases due to lack of money to pay for medical services. Jamii Insurance comes as a much needed solution to this ignored population. Given that a sizable population of the poor already own mobile phones, this makes it much easier to perform the administrative activities of the insurer.
Jamii is matched in strategic partnership with Jubilee Insurance and Vodacom. This helps cut insurance administration costs by as much as 95 percent, this enabling Jamii to offer a health insurance product with a premium for as little as 1 U.S. dollar a month. As a micro-insurance health startup that provides health insurance targeted at Tanzania’s low income population through their mobile phones, Jamii Insurance has been hailed as a miracle based on the service it has been able to provide.