Now available: Health insurance for $3 per month

A Pakistani driver keeps his eyes on the road. Photo by: Patrick and Martha / CC BY

For just $2.50 a month, thousands of low-income Pakistanis are gaining access to in-patient and emergency health care. How? Through an innovative microinsurance scheme operated by the multinational nonprofit Naya Jeevan.

Health coverage. Funeral coverage. Disability and accident coverage. Problems with crops and livestock. – Microinsurance isn’t exactly a new concept; it is being used to help the poor deal with an increasing number of circumstances.

But Naya Jeevan scheme is not just cutting-edge, it’s also timely: After severe flooding in 2010 rendered 20 million Pakistanis homeless, the country’s urban population grew even more rapidly than before. Cities became more crowded, with newcomers scrambling for low-paying jobs that provided little to no insurance against life’s eventualities.

Naya Jeevan’s client list includes domestic helpers, maids, cooks, nannies, drivers, factory workers and contractual employees, who gain coverage of emergency and inpatient care worth up to $1,800 per year.

To reach its target audience, Naya Jeevan connects with private corporations, schools and other nonprofit groups to convince them to purchase health plans for their low-income staff – an approach that is proving effective. Big multinational companies like Unilever have signed up as partners, and the scheme has enrolled more than 13,000 workers since its launch in 2007.

Plans are affordable since they are designed especially for low-income workers. They become even more affordable because part of the insurance’s actual cost is covered by Naya Jeevan’s partner organizations – leaving workers to pay only a minimal monthly premium. Some organizations even pay for that, too.

Naya Jeevan’s example illustrates how “micro”-services and products can help address some of the today’s most pressing development challenges. What’s next in the evolution of these micro-schemes?

Read more on microfinance and microcredit:

  • Distinguishing Microcredit From Microfinance

  • How to Become a ‘Banker to the Poor’

  • Kiva Fellows Connect Online Lenders with Borrowers

  • Microfinance Jobs for Beginners

  • The Maturation of Microfinance

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.