The King (Tsar) of Russia and his entire empire was abolished with one wrong move, his eternal love for his son and the deadly disease his son suffered called Haemophilia (a rare disorder that affects the body's ability to make blood clots, important to stop the bleeding). In the early 1900s, there was no cure for the disease, therefore the King and his wife relied upon spiritual healing. The spiritual healer alongside healing their son’s condition meddled with important stately decisions, which in-turn proved futile and contributed as many reasons for the civil war outcry and destruction of the entire Romanov Dynasty.

The above narration is a situation from the early 1900s, where awareness and healthcare facility both were lacking. Neither the rich nor the poor had access. However, today it is more relevant to many parts of rural India. The lack of awareness, unavailability of proper and affordable healthcare facility forced people in villages sought to malpractices and incur health expenses that exceed their annual household income. The situation needs to change drastically but before that, there exist a plethora of challenges that need to be answered.

Scarcity of medical infrastructure and affordable medical services:
The current infrastructure lacks the ability to serve the ever-increasing population. In addition to the issues of infrastructure and availability of medical professional, affordability is a big challenge. Financial aid in the form of mediclaim or health insurance is concentrated in urban areas where consumers have a better-paying ability that leaves rural areas underserved.

Erratic medical expense and limited solution for the rural segment:
Rural areas have one of the highest poverty rate as compared to the urban sector. Thus health expense leaves a huge dent in their savings. More than 86 percent of rural Indians do not have health insurance, coupled with an acute shortage of doctors. Government schemes and policies like Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana seem like a silver lining, it still doesn’t meet the existing requirement.

While the private sector dominates urban areas, it hasn’t done justice to the rural segment. Many private players introduced mediclaim in the underserved rural belt, but struggled with the availability of hospitals, right treatment, quality medical professional, with an attached worry of repayment risk.

In a bid to answer the issue – Svatantra introduced a custom-made mediclaim for the rural customer:
Svatantra Microfin has been successful in implementing a bespoke mediclaim product for the rural customers - Grameen Mediclaim. Health expense occupies a significant portion in customer’s monthly expense, such an expense occurs in an unplanned and sudden manner, 62% of health spending in India is an out-of-pocket expense.

Svatantra identified a reputed insurance company, with shared values and vision. And in 2016 launched Svatantra Grameen-Care – a mediclaim product. The insurance is offered as an optional product on top of micro-loan. Today, it has covered more than 6 lacs families and has settled claim worth INR.25.82 Crs. These are quite unheard numbers in the rural segment.

The success of the product didn’t come easy, there was a lot of learning and overcoming. Foremost Svatantra ensured that customers are adequately educated about the product and supported by a dedicated 24X7 in-house medical concierge. Being a rural-based microfinance company and serving only to the women community, the team understands the challenges related to the ‘trust’ factor. Therefore, product was made simple as per the client needs. It is a cashless mediclaim for 5 members of the family (including in-laws), where dependents up to 80 years of age can be insured. With just a premium of INR. 100 a month, woman of the house can insure her entire family and get treatment worth INR. 50, 000 for a period of one year, with wage protection coverage up to INR.5000 during the hospitalisation days.

Svatantra Grameen-Care is a benchmark offering. As a company which serves the underserved and rural community, it becomes of the utmost importance that we speak their language, understand their needs, and introduce solutions that will have a genuine impact.

There is no dearth of opportunity, it only takes a vision to serve 86% of the opportunities waiting to be explored.

Citation:https://www.firstpost.com/india/world-health-day-2019-challenges-opportunities-in-indias-81b-healthcare-industry-3544745.html

Svatantra Team

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