National health insurance (NHI) systems are not new with many developed countries successful in providing universal health coverage (UHC) to their populations using NHI systems. In Asia and the Pacific, Japan implements a national health insurance system funded by payroll taxes, income-based premium and government subsidies which has reduced out of pocket payments for health to only at 14% of total health expenditures in 2014.

Among middle- and low-income countries in Asia and the Pacific, Thailand has achieved UHC by implementation its own version of national health insurance in 2002 called the universal coverage scheme (UCS). The UCS provided insurance to the population outside of the social health insurance for the formal sector and the civil servants medical benefit scheme for government personnel. The UCS covers 75% of the entire population, and is funded through government taxes.

How did the Thai UCS emerge as one of the best health financing models for middle income countries? Aside from commitment from politicians, civil society and technocrats in achieving UHC, several reforms were instituted. In addition, the UCS as a national health insurance scheme was able to facilitate efficiency gains through the implementation of various processes within the mechanisms of pooling and purchasing. With UCS, costs were controlled through fixed budget caps, at the same time improving efficiency and financial sustainability.

This success which may seem too exceptional for ADB’s developing member countries (DMCs) can also be done by other DMCs. Indeed, several DMCs are now using interventions usually associated with health insurance as instruments for improving health outcomes and achieving UHC. This meeting will discuss why Thailand and other UHC success stories are not that exceptional for DMCs, and how they can learn and apply from lessons from all over the world on how to use NHI for UHC.


ADB in partnership with the ADB Institute (ADBI) will convene this meeting to learn from countries such as Thailand as well as other country experiences on maximizing the use of a national health insurance system to attain UHC. Each of the components of UHC will be explored: population coverage expansion, health service delivery, financial risk protection and UHC governance. In addition, several country-specific experiences from OECD countries and DMCs will also be presented. This meeting is expected to support and inform the ongoing efforts of DMCs in pursuing UHC. It is also expected to inform ADB’s financing and technical support to DMCs as they implement UHC strategies and interventions.

Target participants

The meeting is by invitation only, however if interested, please send an email to the contacts below for consideration as self-funded participant. Note that only those who have relevant designations and experiences will be endorsed to attend the meeting.

The meeting will target ADB’s developing member countries (DMCs). In particular, representatives from DMCs with NHI. The participants are expected to be around 100-200, inclusive of self-funded stakeholders from the private sector. ADB will also be inviting non-member and non-regional member countries to learn from their experiences.

Online streaming will also be available during the meeting and is open to all:

Resource persons

International and national distinguished resource persons who are experts on national health insurance and universal health coverage will are engaged as speakers, discussants and panel moderators for this meeting.

Event Contact

  • Banzon, Eduardo Principal Health Specialist Sector Advisory Service Cluster Asian Development Bank E-mail contact form
  • Manzano-Guerzon, Honey May Associate Operations Analyst Sector Advisory Service Cluster Asian Development Bank E-mail contact form