Health Emergencies: How do the Poor Pay?


How do the poor in India deal with medical emergencies? MicroSave’s India Focus Note 93 describes how low-income families in India deal with medical emergencies in the absence of quality public health care facilities. It advocates health insurance as an affordable alternative for low-income families. Poor people in India cope with medical emergencies by using savings, loans from various sources, and by pawning or selling assets. The expenditure to meet a major health shock often pushes low-income families into distress. In such a scenario, the Note advocates government sponsored health insurance programmes or cooperative health insurance schemes that are affordable alternatives for low income families. It states that such subsidized, gender-neutral programmes: Provide benefits such as claims reimbursement, free hospitalization, free or low cost surgeries, and network hospitals, Are new to the low-income population,Have had poor penetration due to various reasons such as inappropriate products, lack of insurance awareness, and limited trust in insurance agents and companies, Face challenges of sustainability,Must be designed to suit poor people’s needs if they are to reach significant scale.






Sunil Bhat, Ritika Srivastava



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