Micro-insurance in Bangladesh: Risk Protection for the Poor?

Wendy J Werner

Abstract

Health services and modern medicines are out of reach for over one billion people globally. Micro-insurance for health is one method to address unmet health needs. This case study used a social exclusion perspective to assess the health and poverty impact of micro-insurance for health in Bangladesh and contrasts this with several micro-insurance systems for health offered in India. Micro-insurance for health in Bangladesh targeted towards the poor and the ultra-poor provides basic healthcare at an affordable rate whereas the Indian micro-insurance schemes for health have been implemented across larger populations and include high-cost and low-frequency events. Results of analysis of the existing literature showed that micro-insurance for health as currently offered in Bangladesh increased access to, and use of, basic health services among excluded populations but did not reduce the likelihood that essential health-related costs would be a catastrophic expense for a marginalized household.

Key words: Health expenditure; Health insurance; Microcredit; Microfinance; Micro-insurance; Poverty; Rural health services; Bangladesh  

doi: 10.3329/jhpn.v27i4.3402

J Health Popul Nutr 2009 Aug;27(4):563-573

Keywords

Health expenditure; Health insurance; Microcredit; Microfinance; Micro-insurance; Poverty; Rural health services; Bangladesh

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3329/jhpn.v27i4.3402

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