Leveraging Community Trust to Expand Access to Healthcare
reach52 seeks to shield low-income, underserved households in rural areas from the disruptive financial burden of out-of-pocket (OOP) health expenditures and protect their livelihoods by providing access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance and healthcare services.
Research by CGAP found that those living in low- and middle-income countries pay as much as 60 percent of their health expenditures out of pocket. An unexpected health crisis can force a family to make one of two nearly impossible choices: borrow from an informal moneylender at great expense or sell a household asset to make ends meet. If neither of these are options, families have to suffer poor, if not catastrophic, health outcomes by rationing necessary medical treatment or forgoing it entirely.
Insurance products are meant to help households avoid facing any of those decisions, yet providers often find that insurance is a difficult product to sell to low-income, underserved households. Consumers with less experience or comfort with the formal financial system don’t always understand the basics of how insurance works, how it benefits them, what adverse events it protects or mitigates against, and how claims on their policies are paid. Rather than focusing on the intangible nature of insurance and the functional details of their plans and policies, reach52 taps into the emotional and practical benefits of insurance. “Nobody really wants to buy insurance,” notes Rich Bryson, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at reach52. “But everybody does want to protect their families and look after them. That is a universal trait and that is absolutely the case in the communities that we’re operating in.”
“Nobody really wants to buy insurance. But everybody does want to protect their families and look after them.”
reach52 builds on communities’ trust of local leaders, fellow residents, and community-based nongovernmental organizations that are already locally embedded to drive adoption of its insurance products and to scale its solutions more widely. “Trust is absolutely huge,” continues Bryson. “There can be distrust of external organizations in communities where information is less available and quite a lot of scamming goes on. Partnering with NGOs and individuals in the communities to run the services helps to overcome this. You can then build trust obviously as more people use the service and by sharing positive claims stories, showing how community members have benefited from insurance when they needed it most.”
reach52 recruits and equips Marketplace Area Managers (MAMs) from these aforementioned groups to lead its outreach and onboarding efforts, either in sites directly managed by reach52, or those run by reach52’s on-the-ground partners such as NGOs. MAMs serve as the bridge that connects low-income and rural clients with established insurance providers, using the reach52 marketplace mobile app to help clients find affordable health coverage, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medicines to meet their unique needs.
Expanding Service Offerings and Forging New Partnerships
reach52 drew from a wealth of guidance from its local teams and partners to understand how it could operate safely given travel restrictions and social distancing protocols. With its teams not able to travel, the fintech shifted to focus on its strategy, response, and the development of remote services that could help healthcare workers and the local community. For instance, they developed Facebook Messenger-enabled health chatbot services — used by more than 100,000 people — for sharing information on topics such as COVID-19 and its symptoms.
Specifically, reach52 has focused its recent efforts on combatting COVID-19, addressing barriers to healthcare access the pandemic has created for rural and low-income populations, and examining the adverse economic impacts it has had on livelihoods. In partnership with Johnson & Johnson, reach52 has provided upskilling and remote learning opportunities for nearly 2,000 of its community health workers in the Philippines and Cambodia through its mediconnect platform. It has also expanded the range of healthcare products and services available through the reach52 marketplace, including reach52’s launch into India and Cambodia.
reach52 has focused its recent efforts on combatting COVID-19, addressing barriers to healthcare access the pandemic has created for rural and low-income populations
More broadly, the increased focus on global health and health access issues has accelerated reach52’s partnerships with public and private sector health actors and other key stakeholders, including Pfizer, Biocon, Allianz, and UNICEF Innovation, among others. These new initiatives have ranged from exploring new models of care to address both communicable and chronic health conditions (e.g., dengue fever, diabetes, and hypertension) to new insurance plans and mobile wallet services for low-income communities.