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World Bank Plans to Offer Health Insurance in Senegal



From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

Low-cost health insurance is soon to be available to students and small business workers in Senegal through a World Bank program. Nearly two-thirds of all Senegalese are unable to get health insurance. Many fall into debt when they get sick or injured.

The World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation is working with the International Center for Development and Research to provide the insurance. The Bank says it plans to offer low-cost, private health insurance plans in Senegal, as part of the area's first private co-pay program.

Tiphaine Crenn is an operations officer at the IFC. He says health insurance through private companies is very costly in the West African nation. He says about 65 percent of people in Senegal do not have any health care coverage. In Senegal, only civil service employees, or workers at companies with more than 50 employees, are able to get health care coverage.

Mr. Crenn says many people take out loans to pay for health care. He says this can empty a family's savings. The IFC says that it will work with six private Senegalese insurance companies to share the costs of health risks. It says it will offer micro-health care products at well below normal cost.

Mr. Crenn says the plans will cost as little as $16 per year, although plans that include hospital visits will cost up to $60 per year. Students can get basic health care for just $3 per year. Members will have to pay twenty percent of usual treatment costs. Mr. Crenn says the pilot program plans to target around 108,000 people during the first year in Dakar.