Does Progress Towards Universal Health Coverage Improve Population Health?

Perspective:

The Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) declares that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, and political belief, or economic or social condition. The WHO and other organizations have advocated universal health coverage on the grounds that it leads to improvements in population health, and that broader health coverage generally leads to better access to necessary care and improved population health, particularly for poor people. However, success depends on the details of implementation, such as good governance, maintenance of quality standards, careful choice of benefits package, and targeting populations who are especially vulnerable. Additional research is needed to understand the ways in which the effectiveness of coverage can be maximized. Subject to these qualifications, it is apparent that policy makers can be secure in the knowledge that, if carefully implemented, steps towards universal coverage represent an important strategy to improve the health of their populations. Countries are likely to be more successful in implementing universal health coverage if they recognize that political action is needed to direct future growth in health spending through pooled financing mechanisms that enable the promotion of equitable and efficient health care, and take advantage of cost-effective approaches and cost-constraining strategies.

Keywords: Delivery of Health Care, Human Rights, World Health Organization, Health Services Needs and Demand, Insurance, Health, Social Conditions, Universal Coverage


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