To understand why I think health insurance in Uganda is going to be critical and very necessary, it is important to look at the history of insurance.
The need for insurance coverage in Uganda and in the world in general developed out of the dangers all of us run in the course of living our day-to-day lives. Our lives are continuously under threat be it accidents or health problems. As we age after the age of 33, our bodies do undergo loss or damage, which affects us in some manner or another.
As we live today, there is thus a continuous striving for security, some means of eliminating a danger, lowering it or transferring it to somebody or something better able to bear it and handle the monetary effects. This becomes a matter of growing significance to any individual or Nation as its or his/her financial life develops, so does the increasingly difficult burden of risk.
In the ages gone by, individual assets were measly, trade was by simple barter, and life— being ‘nasty, brutish and temporary—was not held to be of any great value. The growth of commerce and market, plus the introduction of money as a method of exchange, led over the centuries to a more complex society where loss of life and property was taken more seriously.
The early merchants could attempt to protect their building by equipping themselves and securing it against robbers and pirates, while ships tried to cruise close to shorelines to prevent the greater perils of the sea. But it was impossible to supply full protection and so some technique and treatment of changing lost goods at least in monetary terms was sought.
Back in the day, merchant traders and company owners could construct up reserve funds for that function. However that would bind capital which could be used more successfully in the business itself. And most times the sums required were huge when it came to a major disaster. During that time, it would be essential have several years of effective and hassle-free trading to build up sufficient reserves, so new entrants to company would be at a handicap and the commercial initiative would be inhibited. Stable but unfair merchants would even arrange to restrict competition by causing losses to new and upcoming merchants.
The answer to these problems was for merchants to pool their resources to offer a big pool of funds from which losses could be met without dreadful results upon problems to any on contributor. In time some merchants became specifically interested and competent in this new field of commercial businesses and left their other professions to become expert acceptors of dangers.
Slowly they obtained a better idea of classes of trade and the threats involved so that they were able to evaluate the risks inherent in a certain endeavor and choose exactly what contributions it need to make on a fair basis to the main fund.
There was, as there still is, a lot of scope for individual opinion, know-how and portfolio development in threat evaluation. It was not long, for that reason, prior to middlemen appeared to function as a link in between merchants and insurance companies.
From this point of view is can be plainly seen that the introduction of insurance was absolutely essential in the advancement of trade as a means of mitigating against risk. For many years the insurance coverage industry has actually likewise played its part in threat reduction and elimination. By increasing premium rates, enforcing excesses or asking the insured to carry a part of a danger himself.
So Ugandans need not shun insurance in all its forms. Many tycoons have got it all right in terms of business acumen. But what is felling or failing them now is taking on insurance, particularly health insurance which is not available in elaborate forms in Uganda. Many don’t take it upon themselves to take care of their health; believing when disease comes they will fight it with their wealth. But woe unto them that disease doesn’t respect one’s social status. And of late it is sad to say that cancer and other diseases have been visiting and revisiting society that they have become local residents too. That is why sooner or later health insurance in Uganda is gone be very critical to each and every Ugandan; particularly the middle and upper class. More so since there is no formal government run health fund yet.