Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people have access to the health services they need (prevention, promotion, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care) without the risk of financial hardship when paying for them.
Health accessibility and affordability remain a crucial healthcare problem even in the 21st century. Therefore, World Health Organisation chose “Universal Health Coverage” as the theme for World Health Day 2019. India started working towards the universal problem of affordability and accessibility with the introduction of Ayushman Bharat.
- Universal health coverage has a direct impact on a population’s health and welfare.
- Access and use of health services enables people to be more productive and active contributors to their families and communities.
- It also ensures that children can go to school and learn.
- At the same time, financial risk protection prevents people from being pushed into poverty when they have to pay for health services out of their own pockets.
- Universal health coverage is thus a critical component of sustainable development and poverty reduction, and a key element of any effort to reduce social inequities.
- Universal coverage is the hallmark of a government’s commitment to improve the wellbeing of all its citizens.
- Public sector is severely underfunded.
- Private sector is growing but their rising high cost healthcare service is problematic.
- Our country is also facing serious issues of inadequate quality and coverage.
- Ineffective regulation is a concerned area.
- Combining public and private providers effectively for meeting UHC goals in a manner that avoids perverse incentives, reduces provider induced demand.
- Integrating different types and levels of services—public health and clinical; preventive and promotive interventions along with primary, secondary, and tertiary clinical care.
- The National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 advocated allocating resources of up to two-thirds or more to primary care as it enunciated the goal of achieving “the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive healthcare orientation”.
- A 167% increase in allocation this year for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) — the insurance programme which aims to cover 10 crore poor families for hospitalisation expenses of up to ₹5 lakh per family per annum.
- The government’s recent steps to incentivise the private sector to open hospitals in Tier II and Tier III cities.
- Individual states are adopting technology to support health-insurance schemes. For instance, Remedinet Technology (India’s first completely electronic cashless health insurance claims processing network) has been signed on as the technology partner for the Karnataka Government’s recently announced cashless health insurance schemes.