Providing micro-insurance in China
Despite China’s rapid economic growth, health insurance services for the “bottom of the pyramid” – people who live on less than USD 2.50 a day – barely exist in the country. Public social security provides limited health coverage, and commercial insurance companies typically don’t cater to lower-income groups due to a lack of reliable market data and the high cost of distribution outside cities.
It’s estimated that 42% of China's poor people are poor due to illness. Moreover, certain groups, including people with physical and mental disabilities, informal workers, workers in the NGO sector and children in peri-urban and rural areas, are particularly likely not to have access to the healthcare they need. In short, there’s a huge unmet need for affordable health insurance coverage.
Yibao Plan facilitates the development, distribution and sale of health micro-insurance products in China. Through independent researches and partnerships with local NGOs, it collects and analyses data on disadvantaged groups to identify patterns in their health needs and risks. It then brings these insights to major insurance companies as a basis for the latter to develop appropriately tailored health insurance plans. Finally, it markets the plans to the targeted groups, delivering either to NGOs (which distribute the plans for free) or directly to consumers. As well as making healthcare coverage accessible to people who would otherwise lack it, Yibao Plan runs campaigns to educate people about health insurance.
In collaboration with insurance companys, Yibao Plan operates an online portal for consumers to browse and buy plans, send payments and submit claims. As an intermediary, the company neither bears the risk of nor verifies insurance claims, but it does channel claims through its platform. For claims under about USD 440, reimbursement is automated and immediate.
IMPACT ACHIEVED SO FAR?
In its first two years, Yibao Plan’s customers were primarily NGO staff and volunteers and their families. Partnering with such organisations afforded the company valuable insights and data on the needs of the groups it aimed to serve. In 2016, it expanded its focus to include the NGOs’ beneficiaries and has grown quickly and steadily since, reaching 20 000, 90 000 and 270 000 people, respectively, in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Since its launch, Yibao Plan has also evolved from a paper-based, offline service into a digital company with an online platform and a mobile customer service system. A pioneer in China’s nascent social enterprise sector, in 2017 it obtained the Social Enterprise Certification from the China Charity Fair (a coalition of private welfare institutions).
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