Universal Health Coverage

Imhealthist | Sunday 15th of May 2016 12:28:47 AM


An affordable healthcare benefit enjoyed equally by all the residents of a country and which does not deprive benefits on the basis of any kind of discrimination is called Universal health care or coverage (UHC). The umbrella of coverage includes detection, treatment and rehabilitation.  The eligibility for the UHC benefits is not made on the basis of age, gender, financial status, ethnic group, or any other.

What is the need?

As per the statistics of WHO

  • Around one billion people every year across the globe are deprived of medical services
  • After paying for the medical services, around 1.5 billion have either lost their lifelong savings or assets and thereby destroyed their future. 

Factors such as high treatment costs, acute shortage of treatment facilities, and health sector workers have prompted the government agencies to initiate the universal health care program in their country.


For successful implementation of universal health care, following systems are needed to be in place:

  • Efficient health system that detects and treats various illness including the critical ones
  • Availability of qualified and dedicated health workers
  • Financial back up with zero or less burden on people of all walks of life.
  • Accessibility to treatment facilities and medicines.
  • Excellent co-ordination with other agencies. 


As of 2010, around 58 countries in the world have UHC in one form or other. Most of these countries fund these programs either by taxation with or without supplementary levies. In some cases, payments through social health insurance and private contributions from citizens are also adopted. Also, funding is sometimes categorized as localized and specialty treatments, in which the municipal funds are used for the former and national level funds are used for the latter.


The main advantage of UHC is in its concept itself - right to healthcare of accessing quality health services by all without any unfairness. Financial cost factor is the main reason why poor people shy away from medical treatment. Even financially secured groups fret about the costs of treatment as their personal savings for the future gets depleted. When the patients need to pay less from their own funds and rest is covered by government agencies, even financially weak people are bound to benefit by this format.

UHC has many multi dimensional indirect benefits. As the cost liability for the citizens to maintain their health is reduced, the social and economic development of the country grows, as adults devote more time in productive works and children are engaged in educational activities. This in turn reduces the poverty level among the developing or under developed nations.


UHC is not a complete rosy picture. It has its share of demerits also. The waiting time to meet a specialist under UHC may be much longer than normal. The very purpose of quality treatment under UHC gets defeated when the waiting period is more. The high income group people, who are burdened with more tax, may criticize about their money spent on others. With prevailing insufficient health work force, the demand-supply gap is bound to widen further with adaptation of UHC, as the number of patients drastically increase.

            In spite of all these demerits, overwhelming majority of people, including medical health workers, prefer universal health coverage. On early stages of initiation of UHC, governments may face teething problems, but in the long term, it is bound to benefit the society. United Nation has also been urging all nationals to implement universal health coverage and passed the resolution in this regard on 12th December 2012. It is all about the trust people has on its government and the manner in which the program is implemented.