The newly-created 'Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Division' of the Pakistan government has introduced a health insurance card in 38 districts to date, reported Pakistan Point News. The card aims to help 3.3m low-income Pakistanis with their medical expenses.
Known as the Sehat Insaf card, it is meant to ensure that Pakistanis have financial access to treatment in defined categories and covers health conditions for women, preferentially. It also seeks to protect the poor against catastrophic health expenditures via a safety net programme called the Tahafaz.
Pakistan suffers from a wide protection gap as insurance penetration rates are extremely low. At the same time, there is a significant poverty-stricken population in the country. This has led to the government stepping up to help the uninsured/under-insured and poverty-stricken population with healthcare expenses.
A report from Milliman stated that the country’s insurance penetration rate was as low as 0.91% in 2016. In that same year, the average rate for emerging markets was 3.2% and the world was 6.3%.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s first ever official report on multi-dimensional poverty in 2016 found that nearly 39% of Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty which encompasses the various deprivations experienced by poor people in their daily lives such as poor health and lack of education.