Very often, we take health for granted. While the healthcare debate rages in Washington D.C. and around the U.S., the majority of us have health insurance, or at least have access to medical care in the case of an emergency. People in the developing world, however, do not often have the luxury of health insurance or even quality medical care. MicroEnsure, Opportunity’s Micro Insurance subsidiary, is changing this reality for millions of people around the globe, including the Ramtekke family in India.
The Ramtekke family, from Nagpur, India, have been microfinance clients for many years. Recently, they received a 12 month family insurance policy when they took out a new loan that covered Sharadha, the mother and borrower, her husband, and both her daughters.
Not long afterwards, Sharadha’s husband started to have severe pain caused by kidney stones and was admitted to hospital. Previously, he would have been required to pay up front for admission, necessitating him to get the money from a high interest loan from a loan shark. But on presenting his new health insurance ID card, complete with family photograph, he was immediately admitted without charge.
Following a sonogram diagnosis, he was provided with a saline IV and medication. Within three days, the pain had ceased and he was discharged. This required about Rs 6,000 of the available insurance benefit, leaving a further Rs 14,000 available for the family throughout the rest of the year.
A few months later, Dimple, one of the daughters, developed neck pains and she too was admitted to hospital under the cashless service. After an x-ray and CT scan, Dimple was diagnosed with a pertonsillar abscess, usually a complication of tonsillitis that infects the tissues of the neck and throat. In some cases, the abscess can rupture – a life- threatening condition. Dimple was provided with antibiotics, pain medication, and fluids for several days while she was being monitored.
Sharadha explained that there was a huge difference in the level of care they received through the private care with the insurance compared to the government facilities they had used in the past. The network hospital had medication readily available and a much larger staff of doctors ensuring that diagnosis and treatment began on the first day.
Before insurance, she said, they would have had to borrow at a very high interest rate in order to get cash quickly to pay the government facility up front. She enthusiastically indicated that the family would enrol again in 2010.
I am grateful, this holiday season, that this family was able to receive the gift of health.