Increasing numbers of developing countries in Africa and Asia are introducing their own versions of universal health care. In the early 20th century two models of universal health care emerged from Germany and the UK. The UK version uses general taxes to provide publicly funded health care. Germany relies on income taxes, household tax and uses private healthcare providers.
Research, published in The Lancet, reveals lessons learnt in countries such as Ghana, India and Rwanda are shaping the way other countries launch universal coverage. Other industrialised countries like Japan and France have used one of the original models for universal health care. However, developing nations are creating new models which suit their needs more effectively.
The research surveyed nine developing countries in Asia and Africa and found the new models vary considerably, but all have certain aspects in common. These included use of the private sector and increased revenue and health budgets.
The reasoning behind moving towards a universal system was also essentially the same. according to lead author Gina Lagomarsino, “In most cases, the move to universal coverage is a response to people feeling like they’re paying too much out of pocket for healthcare that they can’t afford or can’t even get because it’s too expensive,” she told IRIN/PlusNews.
On average governments had to increase health spending by an average 11 percent to fund universal coverage plans. Only in the Philippines did state health spending decrease. Only three countries relied heavily on international aid, with Mali, Kenya and Rwanda funding over half of universal coverage with donations.
“Successful countries have been moving towards broader, larger risk pools where you have more of the population under one system rather than a fragmented one that, for instance, has separated pools for civil servants, the formal sector, the poor,” Lagomarsino said.