Marcelo Giugale, World Bank’s Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa writing in the Huffington Post:
...Brazil, Chile, China, India and Indonesia have figured out a way forward, and are moving ahead. Here is what they are doing.The identity assurance that biometrics can purchase for $4 is worth far more than four dollars in anti-fraud, anti-free rider savings. In other words, the Return on Investment in biometric idenity management systems can make the difference between a large, complex social program's success or failure.
First, they have reached a political consensus: if you cannot pay for health care, the government will pay for you. For them, this is not just moral principle. It is a way to ensure political stability. What is worse for economic growth: to use public dollars to fund health services for millions in need, or to have those millions angrily demonstrating in the street? Solidarity is good for business. Of course, this assumes that you can tell who is poor and who is not. Well, now you can. Advances in biometric technology have made it easier and cheaper -- about $4 per person -- to identify individuals, to know their income, and to track what subsidies they are getting. This may sound trivial if you live in Canada or in France where you have an assigned social security number and "free" health care, courtesy of the state, from cradle to grave. But it is revolutionizing social policy in the developing world.