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Governments Should Find ‘Home-Grown Financing Systems’ To Achieve UHC

Universal health coverage (UHC) “could transform the lives of millions of people by bringing life-saving health care to those who need it most,” Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima writes in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog. “But some donors and developing country governments have been promoting health insurance schemes as the solution to reaching UHC. Oxfam believes this is misguided,” she states, adding “in some cases this is actually increasing inequality, because these insurance schemes prioritize those who are already better-off and leave the poorest and most marginalized people — especially women — behind.” Byanyima continues, “On the flip side, a growing number of developing countries including Brazil, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand have built home-grown health financing systems that are actually working well. Rather than trying to collect insurance premiums from those who are too poor to pay, they have prioritized general government spending for health.” She states, “In fact, the only low-income countries to have achieved universal and equitable health coverage have done it by relying mainly on tax, rather than insurance.” Byanyima adds, “Donors need to recognize that health insurance schemes do not tend to reach poor people and are typically bad for the health of poor countries” (10/8).