[en] For many years, the migration and development literature has looked at the impact of financial remittances on immigrant relatives’ access to health care. More recent work on social remittances also examined the circulation of ideas and practices through migration and its impact on behavior and consumption patterns in the home country. Surprisingly, however, migration scholars have neglected the interactions between remittances and local health systems in countries of origin. This is all the more surprising considering the abundant literature on health and development that has documented numerous non-governmental initiatives to improve access to care in the Global South in recent years. Among those initiatives, community-based health insurances (CBHI) have attracted significant attention. CBHI are voluntary risk-pooling schemes run by not-for-profit organizations; they collect fees among users at the local level and organize access to care with providers. While the growing literature on CBHI is shedding light on the potential of civil society organizations to replace or compensate for weak public health systems, it forgets that —in many parts of the world— access to the necessary capital to join those schemes is still very dependent on emigration of some family members. In other words, for many families worldwide, strategies to access health care have become transnational.
In this chapter we look at a specific form of CHBI that we call ‘transnational health insurance’ (THI). These insurance schemes are set up by immigrants in cooperation with a multitude of actors including, on the one hand, health insurance companies and development aid agencies in destination countries and, on the other hand, health care providers in countries of origin. THIs offer health coverage to a selected number of non-migrant relatives in the home country based on a premium paid directly by immigrants to the insurance company in their country of residence. Analyzing the creation and implementation of one THI in the Belgian-Congolese postcolonial context allow us in the last part the paper to discuss the concept of hybridity in the study of remittances as well as identify the drivers of immigrant transnational engagement in the area of health.
Social work & social policy Sociology & social sciences
Author, co-author :
Lafleur, Jean-Michel ; Université de Liège > Faculté des sciences sociales > Centre d'études de l'ethnicité et des migrations (CEDEM)
Transnational Health Insurances as Social Remittances: The Case of Congolese Immigrants in Belgium
Alternative titles :
[fr] Les assurances médicales transnationales. Le cas des migrants congolais en Belgique
Publication date :
Main work title :
Migration and Social Remittances in a Global Europe