MILK Brief #22: 'Doing the Math' - Outpatient Health Insurance in Tanzania
The MILK Project is a three-year initiative of the MicroInsurance Centre designed to research whether there is a business case for microinsurance and whether it really benefits low-income families. MILK Briefs are about research that has been completed and indicate lessons learned from that work. In this MILK Brief, the MILK project’s Client MATH team explores the value that Tanzania’s KNCU Health Plan offers its clients.
The KNCU Health Plan is a collaborative effort of the multi-national microinsurance intermediary MicroEnsure, the Dutch NGO PharmAccess, and the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union. In partnership with surveyors from the Tanzania Women Research Foundation (TAWREF), we identified and interviewed former patients – both members of the KNCU Health Plan and individuals with no health insurance coverage at all – about the cost and quality of a recent outpatient healthcare visit for a non-chronic condition.
We explore the total costs of the illness, looking not only at the direct cost of care but transportation costs and opportunity costs given that these can contribute to the incentives to seek care and when. We examine financial savings, but we also explore how the combination of lower costs and improved service value influence clients’ health-seeking behavior. We find that the product offers significant cost savings for the insured. We also see some evidence that by reducing costs and distances, the coverage influences clients to seek care sooner than uninsured respondents.
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