Mobile money use and social health insurance enrolment among rural dwellers outside the formal employment sector: Evidence from Kenya.
Obadha M., Colbourn T., Seal A.
BACKGROUND: The study set out to explore whether mobile money use (mobile phone-based financial services) increased the probability of rural dwellers outside the formal employment sector of being enrolled in Kenya's social health insurance, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). METHODS: We used data from the 2015 FinAccess Household Survey and analysed responses of 4282 rural individuals outside the formal employment sector. Probit and bivariate probit models were used and adjusted for mobile phone ownership, sex, age, age-squared, education, wealth quintile, bank account use, informal group membership, occupation, and health shocks. RESULTS: We found that 16.26% (95% CI, 14.58% to 18.10%) of mobile money users had NHIF cover as compared with 2.44% (95% CI, 1.83% to 3.23%) of nonusers. Importantly, mobile money use increased the probability of being enrolled in NHIF by 4.6% (95% CI, 2.1% to 7.1%) after controlling for confounders. Access to mobile money was associated with reduced travel time and lower transport costs, which are likely to be key mechanisms for increasing NHIF enrolment. CONCLUSION: By lowering transport costs and saving travel time, mobile money provides an easy means to pay social health insurance premiums thus incentivising its uptake among rural people outside of formal employment.