Covid-19 measures block flow of funds to insurance scheme

Wednesday June 17 2020

The Mutuelle scheme's ability to clear hospital

The Mutuelle scheme's ability to clear hospital bills has come under scrutiny again after it reported a decline in funds. Photo ~ Cyril Ndegeya  

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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Mutuelle scheme is facing cash flow challenges occasioned by Covid-19 measures that closed dowm some sources of resources.

According to Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), which manages the scheme, Covid-19 restrictions enforced since late March saw monies coming from levies charged on different services and fines decline sharply, widening its funding shortfall by over Rwf6 billion as at May.

The scheme suffers a funding shortfall estimated at Rwf14.6 billion every year, and could shoot to over Rwf20 billion according to RSSB management.

For instance, little or no money has been coming in from motor vehicle inspection, traffic fines, the gambling sector, the city parking facilities and sale of petroleum products in the country after the Covid-19 paralysed activities.

Except for a few activities that have slowly resumed with the continuous ease of the lockdown, other services like motor vehicle inspection and gambling companies are still closed.

Motor vehicle mechanical inspection for instance contributes 50 per cent of fees it collects into the scheme while 10 per cent of fees charged on services offered to gaming companies come into the scheme.

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Equally hit is the portion of the tourism receipts channeled through the scheme to help meet its costs.

The funding issues are expected to have a bearing on the schemes ability to meet medical bills in the next financial year starting in July 1.

Regis Rugemanshuro, head of RSSB said the scheme now banks on increased awareness campaign to bring more users to make their contributions for the next fiscal year while awaiting for these sources to pick up again.

“There is still 21 per cent Rwandans not contributing to the scheme, and that compromises the notion of mutuality. We want to put the focus on sealing the funding gap. Meanwhile we hope that money from other sources will keep rising as business return to normalcy,” he said.

The scheme, which puts its annual contributions at Rwf32.8 billion including government subsidies, says its spending last year was nearing Rwf50 billion.

The 2019 Auditor General’s report shows that the scheme was unable to settle Rwf2.6 billion worth of arrears to hospitals and health centres nationwide, which subjected the facilities to cash flows problems with a bearing on the quality of service.

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