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Health Insurance for Garment Workers (HIGW)

A project of the Swiss Micro Insurance Consultancy Group (SMCG) associated with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) in collaboration with the local partners:

  • BADAS (Diabetic Association of Bangladesh)
  • UIC (United Insurance Company)
  • New Asia Group of Garment
  • TRCL (Telemedicine Reference Centre Ltd.)
For the provision of insurance and Health services to 8000-9000 garment industry workers

The following are partners of the Swiss TPH associated SMCG in Bangladesh
  • A leading health service provider, Bangladesh Diabetic Association (BADAS) who has experimented with its own “insurance (or savings) scheme” for staff and students, but was increasingly constrained in extending its health services to low-income people by its limited risk bearing capacity;
  • An insurance service provider, United Insurance Company (UIC) willing to test a group insurance scheme for garment workers;
  • A group of four garment companies under the New Asia Group of companies
  • A leading provider of telemedicine, electronic and mobile health technologies services, The Telemedicine Reference Centre Pvt. Ltd. (TRCL)

Intervention Strategy

The health insurance project for garment workers in Bangladesh has been developed by the senior managements of BADAS, UIC, TRCL and the New Asia Group of garment factories. BADAS and UIC have been experimenting with an insurance scheme on a limited scale and sought a mechanism for up-scaling and technical support to conduct that process in a professional way.

They associated Prof Dr Niklaus Gyr of the Academy of Swiss Insurance Medicine in Basel who has a long-term relationship with Bangladesh, BADAS and the SDC (for health policy work). Through him, actuary, legal and other expertise was mobilized in Switzerland to give the project the final shape and seek financial support (initially, as mentioned, through SCBF).

The SDC contribution sought will be used to finance the major part of the technical assistance and some project (non recurrent) expenses, while all operational costs, notably the health services costs and all the insurance risk related costs will be borne by the insurer UIC.

The approach is to develop a scalable salary based premium through the New Asia Group of garment industries, linked with the health service provider BADAS to create a sustainable health financing mechanism. Gate keeper and the crucial data processing function will be provided through the telemedicine service.

Overall Objectives :

To increase health service coverage

  • with improved disease prevention,
  • immediate access to health information, and
  • efficient cost control
through a health micro financing plan by testing the economic viability of a health insurance for industry workers.

Insurance Program at a Glance :

  • Group Health Insurance for around 9000 workers belonging to the lowest salary groups of 7 garment factories.
  • Pilot duration: 1 year from 24 April 2014 to 23 April 2015.
  • Inpatient and outpatient treatment covered by the insurance .
  • Scope of benefits and limitations.
  • Annual coverage up to 15‘000 BDT / year (premium per month 41 BDT).
  • Insurance Company & Garment Industry equally share benefit and loss

Project Program: Healthcare delivery is divided into three parts
  • 1. Preventive part (Health Promotion Initiative) Covered by BUHS Interacting directly with the garment workers without hampering production time.
  • 2. Curative part delivered by mainly National Healthcare Network (NHN) Services are given Treatment (OPD/IPD) Medicine Diagnostic
  • 3. Telemedicine Call Center: Registered doctors are available in the call center for 24 hours. Patient can call any time and can get advice and OTC drags.

Health Promotion Initiative

To get benefits of health insurance coverage properly Insured has to participate in Health Promotion education and disease prevention program which will be provided by Bangladesh University of Health Sciences (BUHS).

Education Materials

BUHS distributes Booklets & Videos on 5 Modules: Nutrition, Hygiene, Communicable & Non Communicable diseases, Reproductive & Child health, Occupational health, Financial literacy

Health coverage

BADAS gives comprehensive health coverage including: Hospitalization, Outpatient treatment, Telemedicine, Consultation, Routine investigations, Major and Intermediate surgery, Medicines, Ancillary services and Maternity benefits.

Garment workers Treatment Process

During working hours:

  • The patient goes first to the Factory OPD
  • If the factory medical facility is not able to treat the patient, the patient will be sent to any of the BADAS healthcare center without calling to the medical call center.
  • Factory physicians also can provide medicine according to patient’s need.

Outside working hour:
  • To get healthcare facility at first patient needs to call medical call center to talk with a Registered doctor.
  • If doctor from medical call center prescribes medicines then patient can go to pharmacy (BADAS Pharmacy only) to collect those medicines.
  • If doctor from medical call center advises patient to visit those any of the three BADAS healthcare medical clinic/hospital, then patient will go there for medical needs.

  • BADAS Pharmacies are available in BADAS outpatient and Hospital places & open 24 hours (day and night), 7 days a week. Patients will collect medicine from these pharmacies.