Providing health care in developing countries is no easy matter. The products and services are limited and expensive, the quality is bad, the personnel are under-motivated and there is an insufficient supply of affordable medicines. On top of that, patients are dropping out of the system. To put if briefly, the overwhelming majority of people in developing countries are suffering from the lack of a social protection net.
Micro-insurance institutions are being set up in Africa, Asia and Latin America in response to this ailing health care situation. Some of these institutions are very large, yet others count their members in the hundreds. These organisations knit together the local population and make sure that inhabitants cover themselves against the risk of illness. Micro-insurance institutions do more than simply pool the financial resources of local people; they negotiate with medical personnel to improve the quality of the services provided and give their members advice and information.
In this publication, the authors look at how micro-insurance institutions can improve access to health care, as well as the other advantages they bring to the health care sector. They go on to describe the problems encountered when people start up a micro-insurance institution of their own. Finally, the authors pay particular attention to the financial viability of young micro-insurance institutions and the way in which development organisations can provide support for these new, often fragile local institutions. The authors illustrate their findings with numerous examples from very different countries.
This publication offers clear insights and food for thought to the initiative takers and managers of micro-insurance institutions, and to anyone else with an interest in health care in developing countries.