National Health Insurance (NHI) systems are not new. Many developed countries have made significant progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by using these systems or their elements. In Asia and the Pacific, Japan implements a NHI system funded by payroll taxes, income-based premiums, and government subsidies. The system has effectively reduced out-of-pocket payments for health to only 14% of total health expenditures in 2014.

Among the middle- and low-income countries in Asia and the Pacific, Thailand moved closer to UHC by implementing its own version in 2002, called the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS). UCS insures the population that falls outside of the Social Health Insurance system for the formal sector and the Civil Servants Medical Benefit Scheme for government personnel. The scheme now covers 75% of the entire population, and is funded through government taxes. How did the Thai UCS become one of the most successful health financing models for middle-income countries? Aside from commitment from politicians, civil society, and technocrats to move towards UHC, several reforms were implemented. These included changes in pooling and purchasing mechanisms, which led to increased efficiency. Costs were controlled through fixed budget caps, which also improved efficiency and financial sustainability.

Thailand’s success proves that developing member countries (DMCs) are capable of making progress towards UHC—and that some of the most effective interventions use elements of social health insurance as instruments for improving health outcomes and coverage. The same is true for many countries that are on their way towards UHC.

This meeting demonstrates why these successes are not out of the reach of DMCs and shares examples of NHI as a tool for moving closer to the objective of UHC.


To enable participants to learn from Thailand and other countries about maximizing the use of a national health insurance system to move towards UHC. Key components and bottlenecks of UHC will be explored: Providing effective population coverage, selecting what goods and services to purchase, improving pooling mechanisms, dealing with governance issues, and more. Several country-specific experiences from OECD countries and DMCs will also be retold. This event is expected to support the ongoing efforts of DMCs, and to provide information on ADB’s financing and technical support to DMCs as they strive towards UHC.


About 60 policy makers, academics, outside researchers, and the general public.


Improved knowledge on how to maximize the use of NHI systems in order to move towards UHC.

How to register

By invitation only.




Asian Development Bank

Time of event

Day 1: 09:00 - 17:30
Day 2: 09:00 - 17:00
Day 3: 09:00 - 17:15
Day 4: 09:10 - 12:00

Event Contact