NGOs in community health insurance schemes: examples from Guatemala and the Philippines

Soc Sci Med. 1999 Apr;48(7):939-50. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(98)00394-3.


In poor rural communities, access to basic health care is often severely limited by inadequate supply as well as financial barriers to seeking care. National policies may introduce social health insurance, but these are likely to begin with the salaried public and private sector workers while the informal sector population may be the last to be covered. Community initiatives to generate health care financing require a complex development process. This paper covers attempts to develop such schemes in rural populations in Guatemala and the Philippines through non-government organizations and notes the major factors which have contributed to unequal progress in the two schemes. The scheme of the Association por Salud de Barillas (ASSABA) in Guatemala was not sufficiently established as an administrative body at the conceptual stage and there was no clear national policy on health care financing. By the time the necessary action was taken, local conflicts hindered progress. In the Philippines, the ORT Health Plus Scheme (OHPS) was implemented during the period of legislation of a national health insurance act. The appraisal after three years of operation shows that OPHS has made health care affordable and accessible to the target population, composed mainly of low and often unstable income families in rural areas. The major success factors are probably the administrative structure provided by a cooperative and controls in the delivery system and in expenditures, through the salaried primary health care team, referral process and the capitation agreement for hospital-based services. The proliferation of such schemes could benefit from national guidelines, a formal accreditation process and an umbrella organization to provide assistance in design, training and information services, involving government, non-government and academic institutions as an integral part of the development process.

MeSH terms

  • Accreditation
  • Capitation Fee / organization & administration
  • Community Participation*
  • Guatemala
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health*
  • Philippines
  • Poverty*
  • Private Sector / organization & administration*
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration
  • Rural Health*