In 2010, Jordan’s Microfund for Women (MFW) piloted “Caregiver,” the country’s first private health microinsurance offering, in partnership with Women’s World Banking (WWB). The Caregiver product has succeeded beyond expectations despite numerous obstacles. Research has shown that healthcare costs often exert the most financial pressure on poor families. Moreover, medical problems are compounded by the fact that the poor are less likely to seek treatment early in an illness for fear of losing income by taking time away from their families or businesses. Meeting the costs of an unexpected health emergency is the most common reason women give for having to liquidate or de-capitalise their businesses. These circumstances only serve as a catalyst for moving further into poverty, depriving families of the tools they once had to generate revenue. Given the negative impact a health emergency can have, microinsurance has tremendous potential to provide security and stability to a poor household. This paper explores the factors that contributed to Caregiver’s success, the lessons learned during the first two years of operation in Jordan, and the priority considerations for Caregiver’s planned replication in other markets. Among the most important success factors was the decision to offer “gap” coverage. For many clients, especially in Jordan a country that has reasonable healthcare infrastructure, the direct costs of care do not necessarily represent the only, or even the largest, financial burden. Of much greater consequence is the potential lost income if the business has to be suspended while the microentrepreneur deals with a health crisis (her own or a family member’s). This loss of income often forces the client to sell off productive assets (e.g., equipment, livestock) for ready cash.
Women's World Banking