February 21, 2024

Dar es Salaam. The government yesterday explained three ways on how it would make Universal Health Insurance (UHI) affordable to poor households.

Briefing journalists here in the city, Health minister Ummy Mwalimu said the government would use the Tanzania Social Action Fund (Tasaf) system, payment in installments and household contributions.

After a long wait, eventually the government last Friday tabled the UHI Bill 2022 in Parliament providing compulsory conditions for people to have registered in insurance schemes in order to secure several social services.

Ms Mwalimu said the contributions should at least be made four times a year, instead of demanding beneficiaries to make entire payment in one go.

“We will come up with standard benefit packages,” said the minister. The contribution to be unveiled later on, will be reasonable. The government’s goal is to cut the burden on citizens,” she insisted.

Ms Mwalimu allayed fears over rumors that force would be applied to make Tanzanians comply with the UHI.

“No one will be fined or jailed for not having health insurance,” said the minister.

Instead of using this kind of approach, Ms Mwalimu said, for one to get some services, it would be compulsory for one to have a health insurance cover.

According to Section 32(a)(h) of the Bill, it will be compulsory for citizens to have health insurance whenever seeking driving license, motor vehicles insurance and admitting children for advanced secondary education or colleges.

Other services that will also be issued after producing evidence of being enrolled in health insurance schemes are provision of travel document (passport), Taxpayers Identification Number (TIN), business license, visa, simcard registration and provision of national identification card (ID).

“The lesson that we have drawn from Ghana, Rwanda and Ethiopia is that for citizens to join the Universal Health Insurance, we must attach it to social services,” said Ms Mwalimu.

The minister said it was not compulsory for Tanzanians to register with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

Alternatively, explained Ms Mwalimu, they could decide to join private insurance companies, if they wished to.

She said before the Bill was tabled for the second reading in November this year, the Parliamentary committee on social services and development will seek opinions from citizens on how best to handle the UHI.

Ms Mwalimu said if Parliament approved the Bill in November, the implementation of the UHI would kick off on July 1, 2023.

Section 7(i) of the Bill introduces the Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (Tira) as the sole regulatory body mandated to regulate insurance activities in the country.

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