Micro-health Insurance Scheme for Poor on Test

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dhaka, Apr 8 (bdnews24.com)—A microfinance institution has started piloting a micro-health insurance scheme as an ’alternative’ mode of health financing for the Bangladeshi poor to help them overcome the cruel cycle of poverty and illness.

After three years of study, the Institute of Microfinance (InM) found poverty rate soared by 3 percent each year in Bangladesh due to out-of-pocket spending for medicare mostly in an ’inappropriate’ way.

“A majority of patients first seek informal providers like pharmacies, quacks and all incur large medical expenses while in many cases, they failed to receive the appropriate care,” Prof Syed M Ahsan, team leader of Micro-insurance Research Unit of InM, said.

“We are trying to find an innovative way where resources of the poor are pooled to form an insurance fund necessary to pay for the care of those afflicted.”

Prof Ahsan spoke during his presentation of the model at a seminar on Sunday in the capital.

Under the two-year pilot project, at least 3,000 households who hold the micro-credit card of three designated organisations of Churkhai, Mymensingh will be covered under the scheme.

“We have designed two packages –Sushasthya and Surokkha. Sushasthya includes outpatient services with full maternity and new-born care for Tk 240 per person per year while Surokkha includes both inpatient and outpatient services with full maternity and new-born care for Tk 384,” he said.

In the absence of insurance, poor households generally spend 5,000 per year, Prof Ahsan said. The main goal of enrolling the poor with micro-credit schemes, he said, was to use it as a ’cushion’ against risk factors and to minimise their healthcare costs.

Source: bdnews24.com (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
Base of the Pyramid, public health