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A unique low-cost private health insurance program in Namibia:

Protection from Health Shocks Including HIV/AIDS

In conclusion, despite the relatively well-functioning health care system in Namibia, uninsured households run considerable economic risks from health shocks. Although medical expenses are low on average, acute illnesses and injuries represent a large financial burden for low-income households. This provides substantial scope for risk-pooling through insurance. However, the lower quintiles are least likely to be insured, due mostly to the high premiums of traditional insurance schemes, making then unaffordable for the poor. Since 2004, the Okambilimbili pilot project has introduced new low-cost, thus affordable, private health insurance schemes in Namibia. Two of the defining characteristics of the new schemes are that they include full coverage of HIV/AIDS treatment and care, and that they pool HIVrelated risk to ensure financial viability of the schemes. The expectation is that these programs will 1) allow for better basic health care for low-income workers and their families; 2) protect individuals against health shocks including those related to HIV/AIDS and the potentially negative mitigating behaviors associated with shocks; 3) relieve some of the burden on the public health sector; and 4) improve productivity of workers (as a result of better health) and in the long-run, the economic growth of the country. Evaluations of the program are currently ongoing to quantify the impact of the insurance schemes.

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