Health insurance for the poor, India

Micro-health insurance refers to the provision of tailor-made health insurance products, typically involving low premiums and modest benefits, by public and private insurance companies to poor or disadvantaged groups. A certain level of provision to such groups is now a regulatory requirement, imposed on insurance companies by the Indian Insurance Regulator.

The Yeshasvini scheme was introduced in 2002, and is available to members of Karnataka’s state co-operative societies. It provides for free hosptalization for surgical procedures up to a cost of US$ 4,444 per member per annum. The premium charged for membership in the programme in 2005 was US$2.7 per adult per year, and US$1.3 per individual below 18 years per year.

The Universal Health Insurance scheme was introduced in 2003, and is available to all individuals and families below the official poverty line. It provides hospitalisation expenses of up to US$667 per family, and compensation for loss of wages in the case of illness or personal accident. The premium for joining the scheme varies between US$8 and US$16 per year.