In a 2007 survey, Karachi-based doctor Asher Hasan discovered that the booming private healthcare systems in urban Pakistan and India were almost inaccessible to millions of low-income individuals.
Two years ago, Hasan devised an insurance model in which large corporations, educational institutions and non-governmental organisations get group insurances for their low-income employees, so that office peons, house helps and chauffeurs can access the same quality of healthcare as their employers at heavily subsidised rates.
Hasan was in Mumbai on Wednesday to give a talk on Healthcare and the urban poor at the Observer Researcher Foundation at Marine Drive.
“It’s a kind of modern-day version of Robin Hood, where the rich offer a service to the poor,” said Hasan, founder of the non-profit enterprise Naya Jeevan, which is providing subsidised health insurance to thousands of economically weak families in Pakistan through tie-ups with 80 corporations.
Hasan said he hopes to be able to launch the Naya Jeevan model in India soon. “The condition of the urban poor will deteriorate without a social system to protect them,” he said.
By generating a large pool of low-income customers through employees of organisations, Naya Jeevan’s model cuts down costs for the insurance firms it partners with as well as the organisation applying for the insurance. “If the insurance firm rejects a claim, we cover it with our own reserve fund,” said Hasan.