AAR Insurance Kenya has launched a service that enables customers to manage medical expenses using their mobile phones. The new service replaces a smart card that clients have been using to access treatment at health facilities over the years.

The move comes as health insurers grapple with low uptake and rising cases of fraud and as the industry increasingly turns to technology as a distribution channel.

AAR Insurance Kenya Managing Director, Nixon Shigoli, says the mobile platform, M-TIBA, developed and managed by CarePay allows clients to access their medical benefits via their mobile phones, thus ensuring convenience.

The new platform will also help curb fraud by creating transparency of medical expenses for the client, insurer and provider. It also gives clients control of their benefits while accessing treatment.

 “Our clients do not have to walk around with medical cards as they can now use their phones to access treatment services at health facilities. Besides convenience, we are empowering our customers to manage claims by tracking how much they have spent at the health facility,” says Mr. Shigoli.

To activate the service, one dials a USSD code *253# and inputs their PIN. They then follow the prompts to access services and authorize the health care provider to give the service.

Once the service is provided, the client receives an SMS alert on their phone with details of amount they or their dependents have utilized and the cover balance. They can also access mini statements.

Being a mobile-based service, the new platform is accessible anywhere, provided one is covered by AAR and has a phone. This eliminates situations where one cannot access medical services because the card is either lost or damaged. There will also be no waiting period for card processing.

The move by AAR signals a milestone in healthcare inclusion in Kenya. The majority of Kenyans use mobile phones thus constituting a huge market for digital services. Mobile-based platforms are also crucial in improving health care delivery and encouraging uptake of medical insurance. In addition, technology has been cited as a way to enhancing the customer experience and lowering cost of service delivery.

Mr. Shigoli adds that the mobile platform will help reduce administration costs by minimizing paperwork and back office operations. He emphasizes the new service will significantly tame fraudulent claims and inflated bills since the patient is able to track treatment costs. Fraud has in the past been blamed for escalating medical claims which consequently hurt insurers’ margins and push up premiums.

“The new service enhances efficiency in service delivery and reduces the risk of collusion by unscrupulous parties to inflate claims or bill for services not provided.”

Moses Kuria, Managing Director CarePay Kenya, says, “We’re helping AAR Insurance give everyone the power to care through the M-TIBA platform. AAR clients will be able to pay for and manage their insurance policy using their mobile phones. The platform will also provide real-time integrated data exchange between the policyholder, AAR and the healthcare facility – enabling fast and accurate settlement of claims.”

He added: “For us to achieve universal health cover in Kenya, we need to be deploying all the technologies at our disposal especially using mobile technology to build a culture of insurance, whereby being insured and paying one’s premium is the norm, rather than the exception.”

AAR Insurance Kenya recently unveiled a new medical cover that has no sub-limits on chronic or pre-existing conditions. This comes at a time the Company seeks to grow market share in a tightly competitive market, where majority of Kenyans are enlisted with the National Health Insurance Fund. Data from the Ministry of Health shows 75 per cent of Kenyans pay for hospital treatment out of their pocket.