The NGO World Vision is aiming to launch a program providing basic life insurance for thousands of Cambodia’s poor, World Vision officials said Thursday.
The NGO’s micro-insurance scheme could provide insurance to an initially small amount of people by late this year, said Rommel Caringal, World Vision Micro Enterprise Development Program manager.
World Vision is currently conducting market research for the scheme, which, if adopted, could in the future have as many as 72,000 clients, he said.
“Common knowledge says the poor aren’t insurable,” Caringal said. “But micro-finance organizations worldwide are saying that [they] are.”
Thousands of clients in a province could pay as little as $1 a month to a local independent fund or bank, World Vision officials said.
When a person dies, his family would receive a payment from the fund to help them avoid slipping into further poverty.
It’s too early to say how much money clients might receive, Caringal said.
At a later stage, the scheme could offer health insurance and insurance against damaged crops, Caringal said.
The Sky Health Insurance project, run by the French NGO Gret, one of the few micro-insurance projects in Cambodia, has about 2,300 clients in Kandal and Takeo provinces, said Cedric Salze, project manager of Sky.
Under the Sky scheme, families pay about $3 per person annually and in return receive full access to public health care.
“Public health care is not free in Cambodia. In each health center you have user fees,” Salze said.
Clients get a $12.50 payout if a family member dies, and Sky pays for the funeral.
Poor services provided by Cambodia’s state health care system, however, could deter people from buying health insurance, he said.
Cambodia’s lack of rules regulating the health insurance market will likely make it difficult to launch the World Vision scheme, and steps need to be taken to ensure that it is managed in a proper manner, World Vision said.
“There are gray areas to navigate,” said Camilo Cesals, a micro-insurance expert advising the NGO. “It’s difficult for a country with young institutions.”