Is Health Microinsurance Sustainable? An Analysis of Five South Asian Schemes

Designing a viable business case for offering health microinsurance products
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This paper evaluates five South Asian health microinsurance (HMI) schemes with the purpose of determining how HMI schemes can be made sustainable. It views HMI as a spectrum of products that range from limited coverage hospital cash to comprehensive (inpatient and outpatient) health-care products. The schemes that are analyzed in the paper are from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan and are operated by a range of types of organizations including for-profit insurance companies, not-for-profit organizations, and public-private partnerships. The paper finds that if sustainability is viewed as unsubsidized financial profitability, then none of the five HMI schemes are sustainable. However, none of the schemes are completely unprofitable or unsustainable, hence indicating that all five schemes fall between two ends of the sustainability spectrum. The paper analyzes various aspects of each scheme independently and also provides recommendations for designing sustainable schemes. Some of the key recommendations include:

  • Design simple products;
  • Offer value-added services;
  • Bundle HMI with savings;
  • Create a positive experience for clients;
  • Use technology;
  • Monitor scheme performance;
  • Engage in public-private partnerships;
  • Design smart subsidies;
  • Drive scale through distribution;
  • Partner with health-care providers.

About this Publication

By Weilant, M.E.