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Price and Information in Life Microinsurance Demand: Experimental Evidence from Mexico

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Poor households in developing countries face large and varied risks, but often have inadequate informal tools to manage them. Microinsurance is being developed to create a better alternative, and it should--in theory--be in high demand. Yet take-up of microinsurance remains low. I study the impact of price and information on the demand for life microinsurance among microfinance borrowers of Compartamos in Mexico. I randomly assigned 8,700 borrowers to two of four treatments: (i) no longer receive a base amount of subsidized insurance coverage (high price) or keep the subsidy (low price), and (ii) being informed with a message emphasizing the financial toll of a funeral and how the insurance payoff helps to face it (financial information) or information emphasizing the emotional toll of a funeral on the surviving family (emotional information). On average, eliminating the subsidy led to a decrease in insurance coverage, but the two messages did not impact coverage. The impacts are heterogeneous, however. . . 

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From Credit to Savings

When the Gates Foundation started a programme to expand global ‘financial services for the poor’ (FSP), many in the field, myself included, saw this as an important complement to the foundation’s work in health and education.1 The evidence is piling up that the world’s poor face the twin problems of low incomes and difficulty managing their incomes without bank accounts or insurance. Finance, in this view, allows people to invest in the future and – importantly – to marshal resources to meet needs today. Access to finance, then, is a key tool for improving the lives of the poor. The Gates Foundation’s impact on finance for the poor has been most strongly felt in re-balancing attention between credit and savings. 

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Evaluation Fundamentals

Impact evaluations try to measure the change in a participant’s life that occurred because of an intervention. The “intervention” could be a policy, a project, an insurance product, or a specific feature of a product. For instance, the intervention could relate to a particular product feature, such as the extent of coverage, a change of pricing structure, or variations in the distribution channel. . .

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Can Insurers Improve Healthcare Quality? Brief

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Using three indicators of quality, the authors investigate whether microinsurance can help improve the quality of healthcare provided to poor patients. The three indicators are: structure (material and human resources available to patients at healthcare facilities), process (what steps are followed in giving care to patients) and outcome (the effects of the care on a patient’s health status). The find that health insurance status is not significantly associated with better quality care as measured by the three dimensions of quality. 

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Can Insurers Improve Healthcare Quality? Evidence from a Community Microinsurance Scheme in India

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We investigate whether microinsurers can help improve the quality of healthcare, and not just its price. We study Indian patients who had a caesarean section, appendectomy, hysterectomy, or abdominal hernia surgery. We compare indicators of facility’s infrastructure; doctor’s qualification and knowledge; process of care; and patient satisfaction. Two thirds of insured patients contacted the insurer about their choice of provider. They are directed towards facilities that are part of the insurer’s network, which have better infrastructure than non-network facilities. Being insured, however, is not significantly associated with receiving better-quality care, even when controlling for several patient and facility characteristics.