Susiladevi and Surulirajan are a married couple, living in the village of Athoor in Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu, India. Susiladevi is a seamstress, and makes her living stitching clothes. They have a daughter.
The villagers of Athoor are mainly agricultural labourers, or make their living as construction workers, tailors and vendors. Many are struggling to make a living off their low income. This has adverse effects on their health, for example leading to nutritional deficiencies and a prevalence of chronic diseases.
The risk of hospitalisation is therefore a big threat to this community; a survey in 2007 showed that for the low-income populations living in India, 40% of their income is spent on health expenses.
Fortunately for Susiladevi and Surulirajan, they are able to access good quality healthcare through their health microinsurance policy with the DHAN Foundation (India).
Speaking about her family’s microinsurance policy, Susiladevi said: “Initially we were insured for INR 12 (USD 0.2) for other products*. Our premium for health insurance was initially INR 100 (USD 1.5), INR 150 (USD 2.2), 200 (USD 2.9), and then INR 300 (USD 4.4). The coverage is provided accordingly, ie INR 30,000 (USD 440), INR 40,000 (USD 580), INR 50,000 (INR 730).
“Now we pay INR 450 (USD 7.0) per month, though sparing that much is hard for us. We have hospitalisation cover for myself, my daughter and my mother-in-law.
“An ordinary blood test would cost me INR 500 – 1,000 (USD 7.3 – USD 14.6). With insurance, we pay INR 450 (USD 7.0) per month for the whole family, it is useful.”
The DHAN Foundation issue their microinsurance policy through a series of community self-help groups (or “Kalanjam), of which Susiladevi and her family are members of.
Surulirajan, Susiladevi’s husband, explains how the process works: “The Kalanjam health associate clarifies and assists us with all matters relating to insurance. I have had a bad experience with private health products in the past; their follow-up support is poor.
He continues: “Through our mutual insurance policy with the DHAN Foundation, they help with claim payments, facilitate the process and offer cash-free treatment. It’s not a major expense and we not only benefit, our contribution benefits others.”
*The DHAN Foundation also offer life, health and crop microinsurance to low-income communities.