Sponsored Seminar (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

Financing Universal Health Coverage

04 May 2013 (12:30 pm-2:00 pm, Hall 2, Room 6)

The provision of health services continues to challenge policymakers in developing as well as developed nations, albeit in different ways. While the overarching objective of policy interventions in the health sector remains the improvement of health outcomes for all, the debates on the most appropriate and effective models to achieve this objective continue to stretch the minds of policymakers. Addressing the core principles of provision of healthcare, health coverage and health protection will need to be the key imperative in arriving at models which are suitably nuanced to meet the specific requirements of individual nations.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is emerging as a panacea in the current discourse on the route to achieving health outcomes for all. While this mechanism enables countries to cover promotive, preventive, diagnostic, curative and rehabilitative health services, robust health financing systems will need to be established to ensure sustainability and effective implementation of UHC. For developing countries, the challenge is to increase the available funding so that they are able to provide and make accessible a minimal set of quality health services. For developed countries, the challenge is to maintain the current levels of health expenditure while responding to the needs of an ageing population.

While policymakers are aware that public health services should be cost-effective, health financing is often constrained by funding ceilings for public sectors. Although the scarcity of funds for health is a constraint, much more can be done with the existing resources by reorganizing financing arrangements. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates show that 20 to 40% of all health spending is currently wasted due to inefficiencies and that investing these resources more effectively can help countries move much closer to universal coverage without increasing spending. There is also a shift in demand to personal or curative health services within the health sector, requiring direct out-of-pocket payments from people, resulting in financial hardships and poverty. This over reliance on direct payments is a critical barrier to universal coverage.

Various health financing tools have been adopted by countries as well as international organizations to mitigate these constraints. Experience from across the globe, such as those of the national health insurance scheme in South Korea, rural cooperative medical scheme in China, health care reforms and health financing systems in Argentina, and health service delivery through decentralized systems across India, can lead to important lessons for developing health financing systems that guarantee access to critical services. It is important, therefore, to develop an evidence base on what works and in different contexts, and appropriately nuance our policies and interventions.

With this backdrop we propose to debate and initiate discussions on the key theme of this session, namely “Financing Universal Health Coverage”. Eminent speakers will discuss issues related to providing for health for all, revenues and costs involved in public health care provision, protections and safeguards against financial consequences of health care, tools for health financing and their contextualization, value for money and sustainability, strategies to reach out to the underserved and guarantee equitable access, and innovations in alternative financing, private sector participation, and partnerships with the private sector.


Hasit Joshipura
Vice President, South Asia and Managing Director - India, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Nata Menabde
Head of Mission and World Health Organization Representative to India

Somil Nagpal
Senior Health Specialist, South Asia Region, The World Bank

Naresh Trehan
Chairman and Managing Director, Medanta - The Medicity

Moderator: David Levy
Global Health Industries Leader, PwC