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
- Excellent co-ordination with other
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.
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
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.