New Tool Provides First Comprehensive Look at Health Insurance Programs for Low-Income Families in Developing Countries

Searchable Database Offers Comparisons of Premiums, Benefits, Coverage, and Lessons

Jun 18, 2012, 00:01 ET from Abt Associates

BETHESDA, Md., June 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A new resource captures more than 100 health insurance programs designed for low-income populations in developing countries —an important milestone in developing a comprehensive database of this emerging industry. The resource is made available by Abt Associates and the Health Working Group of the Microinsurance Network in close collaboration with the International Labour Organization's Microinsurance Innovation Facility, Results for Development, and Denis Garand and Associates.

Today, tens of millions of low-income people have access to health insurance coverage—an impressive number, but only a very small proportion of the potential market. As the number of programs continues to grow, so does the volume of lessons learned on the design, administration and delivery of health insurance products and services for low-income households in developing countries. The Microinsurance Network Health Working Group's Inventory of Health Insurance Products and Lessons Learned brings that knowledge together in one place.  The Inventory offers snapshot profiles of health insurance products in more than 40 developing countries. Emerging lessons from the database include the successes and failures of these programs to reach poor households, price their products for the low-income market, provide value to their clients and achieve long-term viability.

This searchable database, which is available to the public, is hosted by the ILO's Microinsurance Innovation Facility at and the Center for Health Market Innovations, a public web platform managed by Results for Development at The database includes information on each health insurance product, as well as emerging lessons extracted from academic journals, publications from industry leaders, and submissions from practitioners.

"This will be a valuable resource for the field of health insurance aimed at low-income families. It not only provides a comprehensive overview of such programs, but it will be a living document, updated as new research becomes available," said Thierry van Bastelaer, Principal Associate at Abt Associates and facilitator of the Network's Health Working Group.

The health insurance products featured in the database utilize the same principles as conventional insurance, but are tailored to meet the needs of low-income households in developing countries that may be excluded from any national formal sector insurance programs or unable to afford conventional health insurance. 

Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates was ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms in 2011 and also named one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in nearly 40 countries.

The Microinsurance Network is a global multi-stakeholder platform for individuals and organizations involved in microinsurance. Its mission is to promote the development of good-value insurance services for people on low-income by providing a platform for information sharing and stakeholder coordination.

The Network's Health Working Group brings together practitioners, insurers, and academics involved in the design and implementation of pooling products that increase low-income families' financial access to health care.

The International Labour Organization through its Microinsurance Innovation Facility seeks to increase the availability of quality insurance for the developing world's low income families to help them guard against risk and overcome poverty. The Facility was launched in 2008 with the support of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI) promotes policies and practices that improve privately delivered health care for the poor in low- and middle- income countries. Operated through a global network of partners since 2010, CHMI is managed by the Results for Development Institute. Details on more than 1000 innovative health enterprises, nonprofits, and policies can be found online at

Denis Garand and Associates is an actuarial firm with the mission to provide clear advice on viability of microinsurance based on sound insurance management skills. They have worked with microinsurance since 2001 in over 30 countries.


SOURCE Abt Associates