Tech Makes Health Insurance Affordable, More Accessible in Emerging Markets

Tech Makes Health Insurance Affordable, Accessible

While Africa’s FinTech sector may have steamed ahead in the creation of unicorns, the region’s HealthTech sector has proven to be every bit as innovative and of increasing interest to Africa-focused venture capital (VC) firms.

As Jeff Stine, an Africa-focused venture capitalist noted this month in a LinkedIn post, the sector is “by far one of the most exciting spaces, and the innovation we are seeing there is both super meaningful as well as economically attractive.”

See also: eHealth Startups Making Moves Across Africa

One of the key players in the space is Reliance Health, a Nigeria-based firm that uses digital financing solutions to increase access to health services and help people spread the cost of health insurance and telemedicine without breaking the bank.

As CEO Femi Kuti told PYMNTS in an interview, “financing is the biggest problem when it comes to accessing healthcare. Almost 30% of families — some places as high as 50% — are one health care expense away from bankruptcy.”

Read more: Technology Plugs the Financing Gap, Democratizes Healthcare Access in Emerging Markets

He added that one of the biggest ways companies can contribute to the healthcare ecosystem is by bringing down costs and predicted that this will lead to more consolidation in the HealthTech space across emerging markets.

Explaining further, he said that “it’s going to be very similar to what has happened in more developed markets, where you see that financing players are beginning to get more involved in the auto provision of healthcare.”

See also: Healthcare Financing Gains Broader Acceptance With Patients, Providers

More than just an insurer, Reliance has brought several health services in-house by partnering directly with hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. This integrated approach to healthcare has allowed the company to build its own telehealth platform and drug delivery service.

The Evolving Structure of Healthcare Financing

Nigeria is emerging as an important innovation hub for startups looking to connect the dots in healthcare provision and financing.

Another Nigerian company making moves in the market for insurance-plus services is WellaHealth, which helps to tailor healthcare plans for individuals, families and businesses by connecting insurers, healthcare providers and tech platforms to help drive down the cost of critical services such as Malaria tests.

Last year, the company acquired telemedicine provider Wellvis to further enhance its healthcare offering, lower costs and increase access to healthcare.

See also: Startups Look to Tap Into Africa’s Telehealth Opportunities

Beyond Nigeria, the Senegalese digital insurance broker Assuraf has built a single platform for auto, home, travel, health and life insurance.

Differentiating itself from other insurance marketplaces, Assuraf doesn’t just list insurers and help people shop around for policies. It offers a claims management service that helps policyholders process their claims through a fully digital interface with a personalized dashboard where users can track the different policies they have taken out.

Between advances in digital-first healthcare and a growing appetite for more integrated health services, innovation in the HealthTech space is helping to increase coverage and deliver better services to people who might otherwise be locked out of treatment.

As Kuti said to PYMNTS: “It’s a crazy irony when the poorest people are paying for healthcare in the most expensive structure.”

Thankfully, novel financing and delivery solutions are helping to change that structure.

For all PYMNTS EMEA coverage, subscribe to the daily EMEA Newsletter.