eQualityHealth Bwindi insurance is an innovative partnership between Bwindi Community Hospital (BCH) and community “Bataka” groups, that aims to support the community in accessing quality and affordable health services.
Bataka groups are village-based groups formed mainly to provide support to members experiencing conditions of distress due to death. The Bataka group leaders mobilize their folks, collect the money from them and remit it to the Hospital as community contribution to the cost of their health care.
BCH coordinates with these bataka groups to offer health insurance to Bataka members. Groups can subscribe to the insurance plan by making an annual payment of 20,000 Ugandan shillings (about $5.5 US) per person. Insurance plan members then receive a subsidy of approximately 80% of their health care costs at BCH. It protects the poor and enables them to have some control over their health care.
The people in southwestern Uganda who are served by eQuality are nearly all impoverished. However, there are some who are the poorest of the poor, especially the Batwa pygmies. The Batwa were the original forest dwellers who were expelled from the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest when it was declared a national park. As hunters and gatherers, after being cut from their forest food sources they quickly became some of the most marginalized people on earth. The low $4 a year eQuality charges for subsidized health care is still beyond the means of the Batwa. In response, the hospital gives the Batwa a 50% discount from the normal eQuality rate.
The eQuality health insurance plan which was launched in March 2010 has grown to 204 groups being enrolled with 27,022 members, or 34% of our catchment area. Our goal is 60%. In total, the premiums and user fees patients pay contribute almost 20% to the hospital budget. We are proud of our program because nationally less than 2% of Ugandans have health insurance. But, as we are growing the program to be sustainable, the small amount we charge as a premium and low co-payments are not enough to cover the health expenses of our members.
Would you consider supporting our eQuality health insurance scheme to enable us continue serving the poorest of the poor?
A matching fund of US $300,000 is needed to support care for members of the plan as it grows to become self-sustainable.