IFC Helps India’s Meghalaya State Extend Health Insurance to All
International Finance Corporation: IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping the eastern state of Meghalaya implement a universal health insurance plan to benefit the state’s population of over three million, including those from low- and middle-income households currently without health coverage.
IFC will work jointly with the World Bank to assist the state in designing and implementing the insurance plan, including promoting private sector participation. It will broaden coverage for local families, allowing them to obtain quality healthcare and specialized treatment close to home. The project is also supported by the UK’s Department for International Development.
“Through this first-of-its kind scheme in India, Meghalaya will be able to expand healthcare services to all,” said Donald Wahlang, Commissioner and Secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Family Welfare. “In the long term, it will help address the shortage of trained medical and paramedical staff in the northeast region.” Meghalaya had launched India’s national insurance scheme Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna in 2009, demonstrating a commitment to strengthen health infrastructure in the state.
The project will be implemented in two phases. In the first, the plan will extend insurance coverage to more than 80 percent of the residents not covered by Meghalaya’s current program. The second phase will include coverage for a broader range of diseases and tertiary health care delivery, all under higher financial cover.
“By introducing an efficient and independent paying mechanism, the project will promote private sector participation in offering healthcare to the insured,” said Karin Finkelston, IFC Vice President for Asia-Pacific. “Increasing the paying capacity of the rural poor will encourage the private sector to provide services in smaller and remote towns and villages.”
The project is in line with IFC’s strategic focus of stimulating development in economically stressed regions of India, including the northeast.
“With steep health expenditures affecting the poor, government-sponsored health insurance schemes offer new possibilities towards attaining universal coverage,” said Julie McLaughlin, World Bank Sector Manager for Health, Nutrition and Population for South Asia.
This is the second intervention in healthcare by IFC in Meghalaya. IFC advised the state government in 2010 on providing quality healthcare and training at the Shillong hospital and medical college.
**About IFC ** IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities— all while driving our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.