Pudhur is an urban area in Madurai, Tamil Nadu (southern India), and currently contains nearly 40 slums. The residents are mostly engaged in manual labour (including masonry labourers, construction workers and housemaids) and struggle to make a decent living.
The consequences of this inconsistent income for residents include; nutritional deficiency; increased susceptibility to diseases due to unhygienic conditions; and unhealthy lifestyle choices (such as alcohol addiction).
Mr Paramasivam has lived in Pudhur for many years; he works in a cycle repair shop and has a family to support (he has a wife and two children). He recently feel ill, and visited SUHAM Hospital.
Speaking during his stay in the hospital, Mr Paramasivam explains: “I was asked to provide my health insurance card, and have been receiving treatment for the past three days without being charged.
“Had I been to any other hospital, I would have had to pay for my treatment in advance. With no money in hand, I would have approached a money lender to get the money. Having insurance has helped me in my time of need.”
Mr Paramasivam is covered by a health microinsurance policy with the DHAN Foundation (India). He is insured through his membership with a local self-help group (SHGs) network; known as Pudhur Vattara Kallanjiam.
SUHAM Hospital runs entirely on the efforts of village-level SHGs formed by underprivileged men and women in India. DHAN Foundation policyholders are able to receive treatment at SUHAM hospital without having to make large payments in advance, which they cannot afford. A survey undertaken in 2007 by the SHGs revealed that poor families spent 40% of their income on medical treatments.