Publication: Georgia’s Medical Insurance Program for the Poor

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Smith, Owen
Georgia launched its Medical Insurance Program (MIP) for the poor in 2006. This program draws from general tax revenues to provide comprehensive, means-tested health insurance to the poorest 20 percent of the population as identified by a proxy means test. The government contracts private insurance companies who serve as financial risk carriers and purchasing agents for the program. MIP is well targeted to the poor and has had a major impact on improving financial protection of its beneficiaries. It has also served as a launching pad for significant investments in hospitals and information technology (IT) systems. In brief, MIP is a program funded through general taxation that provides a fairly comprehensive benefits package of health services to the poorest 20 percent of the population as identified via a proxy means test. There are no copayments for services. Although run by a state purchaser during the first two years, since 2008 its key feature has been that private insurance companies are contracted by the Ministry of Health to bear financial risk and to purchase services from both public and private providers on behalf of poor beneficiaries. The government sets policy, pays a per capita premium per beneficiary to private insurers, and conducts program oversight. This case study provides an overview of how MIP is designed, its achievements to date, and challenges for the future. A key theme discussed in further detail, and of potential interest to other countries contemplating a push toward the achievement of universal health coverage, is the contracting of private insurance companies to purchase services on behalf of the poor. Some attention is also given to MIP's targeting approach.
Smith, Owen. 2013. Georgia’s Medical Insurance Program for the Poor. UNICO Studies Series;No. 16. © World Bank, Washington DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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