Health Insurance in Pakistan: Reaching Under-served Demographics in the Digital Age


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Originally published at: https://mawazna.com/blog/health-insurance-in-pakistan-under-served-demographics-in-the-digital-age/

In December of last year (2018), World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director Dr Ahmed Salim Saif Al-Mandhari paid a four-day visit to Pakistan. During his visit Dr Al-Mandhari expressed his support and recognition of the health service reforms taking place in the country under the present government. One of the main focuses is the roll-out of health insurance programmes across the country. The project’s 2019 target is that at least 50% of Pakistan’s population with health insurance cards. The cards entitle holders to free medical care worth up to 720,000 rupees at private hospitals.

However, while the government health card scheme is certainly a very positive step in the right direction, Pakistan’s health care crisis also needs significant support from the private sector. The country still has the lowest rate of personal insurance, including health insurance, in the region. That status quo is a significant drag on economic and social development as well as having a hugely negative impact on the finances of households faced with the need to fund serious healthcare for one of its members.

The most likely answer to Pakistan’s problem of low penetration of health insurance across its population is health-focused insurtech. A new generation of digital insurance products offer easy, practical access to the kind of health insurance products specifically suited to the local market at a commercially viable price point.

Key to delivering health insurance products that fit the needs of emerging markets such as Pakistan is ‘disintermediation’. The term refers to the unbundling of a narrow set of financial services from the kind of wider package traditionally offered and suppling only the most relevant or crucial to a particular market. That allows the key components of these financial services, in this case what is covered by a health insurance policy, to be provided at a viable price point.

For a practical health insurance system that addresses the needs of an emerging market such as Pakistan, several key requirements must be met. Digital technology makes ticking these boxes much easier. They are:

  • Identity and address authentications.
  • Payments processing and records.
  • Proof of policy.
  • Details of medical treatment received such as care, medication and cost.

Digital insurtech products for the Pakistani market also need to be compatible with older and less sophisticated mobile devices.

Meeting these conditions will not only allow for far greater penetration of health insurance products in Pakistan. The ‘big data’ that digital insurtech systems will gather through the pooling of anonymised health insurance, holder health profiles and treatment records will provide an invaluable resource that will be leveraged to further optimize health insurance that fits the needs of the market. That should mean continuing to bring costs down for the end user while optimizing the business model of providers. That in turn should drive competition and feed back into a better product and price for Pakistani citizens buying digital age health insurance products.

While there is a long way to go, the combination of increased government attention to ensuring universal standards of minimum healthcare in Pakistan and the digital revolution of market-tailored private insurtech heralds a much improved future. As it develops, Pakistan’s consumer-facing financial services industry is quickly growing in its choice of products and services across banking, credit, insurance and investment products. Mawanza.com addresses the previous lack of a fast, convenient and transparent consumer platform that allows you to explore the financial services available to you in one place. From price, to features and conditions our mission is to make it easy for you to find the best financial services for your personal requirements and preferences.