Fintech for wider healthcare access in Uganda
Improving access to healthcare financing in Africa is considered one of the continent’s biggest challenges. In Uganda, where clinicPesa operates, less than 1% of people have health insurance, while everyone else pays medical expenses out of pocket. Most people are not prepared to cover the costs of a medical emergency or an expensive treatment and too often forego the care they need. Many expectant mothers, for example, skip antenatal examinations and deliver their babies at home without adequate medical attention or equipment.
One reason for Uganda’s low insurance penetration is the price. People with little to no disposable income are reluctant to buy a policy that may not lead to a payout. Insurance companies therefore tend to focus on middle- and high-income customers in urban areas instead.
clinicPesa is a digital platform for managing medical expense savings, micro-loans and payments. Users can set aside money in increments, which can then be used to pay medical bills at any clinicPesa-registered healthcare facility, including certain pharmacies. Healthcare providers receive the payment immediately and securely while gaining access to patients who previously couldn’t have afforded their services.
Using clients’ mobile money transaction records, the system also computes a credit score and automatically offers a suitable micro-loan when users are paying a bill larger than the amount they’ve saved. clinicPesa users can also share their funds with others and/or make payments on others’ behalf.
For expecting mothers, the company recently developed a feature called clinicPesa MaMa’s that calculates the expected cost of transport to a clinic, antenatal visits, birth kits and delivery and generates a savings plan tailored to the stage of pregnancy.
As of April 2021, thanks to a partnership with MTN, the largest telecom company in Uganda, clinicPesa will be available to every owner of an MTN SIM card.
IMPACT ACHIEVED SO FAR?
This healthcare financing platform puts quality, affordable healthcare within reach of Ugandans at the bottom of the social pyramid, improving their health outcomes as well as their financial resilience. clinicPesa at first focused on market research. In early 2020, it launched a pilot with 40 medical providers to test new functionalities with roughly 29 000 users. With the completion of two rapidly scaling pilots and investment into a technological platform that could be scaled horizontally, the service is now ready for a mass market commercial launch. Its partnership with MTN gives it direct access to over 10 million potential customers as all MTN accounts will be set up to automatically include a clinicPesa wallet.
USE OF SWISS RE FOUNDATION FUNDS
If it won the Resilience Award, clinicPesa would benefit from Swiss Re’s expertise on how to manage and analyse credit risk, including advice on risk pooling. Swiss Re could also help the team explore the possibility of partnering with insurers.
The company would use the award grant to finance the lending pool until it can raise alternative capital with a debt fund. This would allow the company to ensure a smooth launch and to accommodate the needs of the likely fast-growing pool of users. Another portion of the funds grant would go towards operations.
Access to Health and Income Opportunities
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