Theoretical insights into the development of health insurance in low-income countries
This Discussion Paper is concerned with the development of risk-sharing systems for health, in low- and middle-income countries. It questions whether insurance theory developed in wealthier economies, in particular the central ideas of adverse selection and moral hazard, has relevance in the context of poorer countries with high levels of unmet health needs, and low utilisation of health services. Empirical evidence on these two issues is reviewed, as is the debate around social capital and collective action, and its relevance to extending risk sharing in poorer countries. Drawing on thinking and evidence from development economics, it is argued that informal risksharing may crowd-out formal risk-sharing schemes, the reverse of arguments found in much of the literature. Rooted in a holistic framework of household risk-reducing strategies, the paper considers the dynamic of demand for insurance in poorer countries, influenced by factors such as social cohesion, perceived corruption, and duty to the state. A central argument in the paper is that much of the literature on health insurance in low-income countries fails to consider well-developed and highly relevant bodies of literature in development economics and sociology.
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