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Freedom from Hunger

About the Project
Project Name: 
Health microinsurance consumer education
Type of Facility Project: 
Innovation Grant
Pays d’opération: 
Project Thematic Focus: 
Consumer education
Type of Risk Carrier: 
Type of Distribution Channel: 
Government networks
Mutuals, community-based organizations
Project Description: 

Although a diverse set of actors is currently involved in providing health microinsurance to low-income people, reach and enrolment have been limited, particularly in rural areas. For most low-income people in the developing world, the concept of insurance—to protect against the cost of illness, accident and extended ill health—is new, untested, and not well understood.

To fill the gap, Freedom from Hunger seeks to develop a consumer health microinsurance module that will provide microinsurers, MFIs, and other organizations with an effective educational tool to equip low-income people to make informed and wise decisions and help them evaluate, access, and effectively utilize available health insurance products.

In the first phase of the project, Freedom from Hunger will design, develop, and field-test a flexible, adaptable, and replicable consumer education module targeted for low- income families; in a second phase, Freedom from Hunger will evaluate the impact of the module in collaboration with a health microinsurance scheme. The analysis aims to look at changes in consumer health-insurance knowledge; rate of enrolment or take-up; disenrollment; and ability of consumers to access and utilize the services their policies would cover.


The project will target one or more vulnerable groups amongst the ‘chronically hungry poor’ who lack access to health insurance and who have correspondingly poor health status. The groups have below-poverty-level incomes, high levels of illiteracy, and include predominantly women and families.

Lessons from the Project
Learning Agenda: 
  • How can a consumer health education module be developed for use with low-income consumers that incorporates generic information on the value of health insurance, and that is designed with built-in modularity to enable replication by health microinsurance providers across a range of different settings, sponsors, and schemes?
  • Does the delivery of a series of technical learning conversations based on adult learning principles measurably increase the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of poor consumers about the advantages of health micro-insurance, and how the insurance program works to provide financial protection to the enrollee and/or the family?
  • What is the added value of consumer education for insurance uptake, retention, access to and use of covered health benefits, and the capacity of consumers to use health insurance to help manage the financial risks of illness and poor health?
Emerging Lessons: 

  • When developing health insurance education tools, seek input from health insurance experts early in the development process.
  • Certain key messages about HMI resonate better with low income clients; pilot testing is a good way to test and improve these messages.
  • The cost of illness in terms of lost opportunity to generate income is an important message to deliver to consumers, and should be stressed more strongly.
  • Lessons on how insurance works must be simple and minimize the use of insurance terminology.
  • It is potentially beneficial to reinforce messages about the benefits of HMI when re-enrollment occurs.
  • Consumer education tools must be flexible; the development process should allow for adaptation and include field testing.
  • Insurance product enrolment, and by extension interventions such as consumer education, should be timed to coincide with availability of discretionary income.
  • Implementing field partners, such as an MFI, need to be carefully informed about how to participate in a randomized control study.
  • Even with national schemes for HMI, the benefits of a product and knowing how to use it are poorly understood.
  • The selection of an implementing partner and a HMI scheme to pilot test an intervention like consumer education should be well structured and carefully considered.
  • Based on the initial experience in working with SAT in the field test and with staff training in preparation for delivery of the education, FFH thinks that the upfront effort and extra time to select a partner was a worthwhile investment.
  • Plan adequate time to identify pilot test sites where an existing health microinsurance product and a capable implementing partner are sought.
  • Working with public health insurance programs can mean unforeseen challenges due to shifting government policy, changes in financing, management or infrastructure issues.  
About the Organization
Relationship with the Facility: 
Innovation grantee
Region : 
Type of institution : 
Non government organization
Participation in Microinsurance: 
Distribution channel
Organizational Overview: 

Freedom from Hunger is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 1946 and working in 17 countries in West Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Its mission is to bring innovative and sustainable ‘self-help’ solutions to the fight against chronic hunger and poverty. Its core activities focus on designing and disseminating integrated financial services and lifeskills training that equip the rural poor to escape poverty and achieve household food security. The organization’s experience and expertise extend across multiple sectors that address the causes of chronic hunger and poverty, including microfinance, livelihood development, health and nutrition, household food security and empowerment of women.

More about the Organization