Today, more than 1 billion people in low- and middle-income countries lack access to basic healthcare. Most people do not have health insurance or access to a bank account. Thus, out-of-pocket cash payments are the predominant mode of healthcare financing. However, the costs for skilled care often exceed the assets which a poor household can access at one time, leading to medical impoverishment.
Within the last decade, mobile phone ownership has grown exponentially. Today, more than 70% of worldwide mobile phone subscriptions come from low and middle-income countries. In the footsteps of this revolution have followed mobile payment systems, or mobile money for short, which commonly utilize low-tech systems to enable financial transactions without the need for a bank account.
We believe that the sustainability of healthcare provision and the access to it can be improved through technology. Harnessing the power of mobile money, we therefore launched mTOMADY (tomady = strong in Malagasy), a mobile phone-based savings and payment platform for healthcare in Madagascar.
The Problem of Financing
“I am wondering if it will be a normal delivery or if I will require surgery. I saw other women and I became anxious: When the delivery is normal, we don’t have any problem and can pay for it. But if it happens to be a complicated delivery, we need an operation and spend a lot of money. If you cannot pay up front the hospital won’t do anything.”
— Young mother