Health financing

What is health financing for universal coverage?

Featured topic: Pooling


Pooling is a core function of health financing policy. The purpose of pooling is to spread financial risk across the population so that no individual carries the full burden of paying for health care.

To make progress towards universal health coverage, countries should increase the share of prepaid revenues in the health system, and minimise fragmentation in risk-sharing mechanisms. Establishing separate schemes for civil servants, private sector workers, and poor people are examples of fragmented risk-sharing.

Coverage can be improved by consolidating fragmented pools regardless of sources of funds.

Featured topic: Budget transfers to health coverage schemes


Budget transfers to health coverage schemes are increasingly used to finance coverage for vulnerable and poor people. Over 40 low- and middle-income countries use this health financing arrangement, which is also common in many high-income countries.

In two thirds of these 40 countries, both the subsidized and contributors are part of the same pool. If well designed and implemented, subsidised enrolment into health insurance can accelerate progress towards universal health coverage.

New perspectives on global health spending for universal health coverage

WHO Report: New perspectives on global health spending for universal health coverage

12 December 2017 -- Making progress towards universal health coverage requires the commitment of countries to mobilize and sustain adequate public funding for the health sector. This new WHO report summarizes the latest internationally comparable data on health expenditures in more than 190 WHO Member States between 2000 and 2015. The report summarizes key global health expenditure patterns and trends, and illustrates the potential of the new Global Health Expenditure Database to inform thinking about financing reforms in support of policies which drive progress towards UHC; the report also raises a number of issues for further research.

Global health expenditure database update

WHO Global health expenditure database

WHO is pleased to release new health expenditure estimates for the period 2000 to 2015 through its updated Global Health Expenditure Database. The database includes more than 190 WHO Member States in line with the new system of health accounts (SHA 2011). New classifications now capture more accurately health financing reforms taking place in Member States, renewing and enhancing efforts to provide both citizens and policymakers with an accurate picture of internationally comparable data. The new data enables more insightful and policy relevant analysis to be conducted than was previously possible. WHO welcomes feedback on this initial release of data.

Tracking universal health coverage: 2017 global monitoring report

2017 global monitoring report on universal health coverage
WHO/SEARO/Sanjit Das

14 December 2017 - Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people can obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. This report shows that more than half of the world’s more than 7.3 billion people do not receive all of the essential services they need. Over 800 million people spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets to pay for health care, and about 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty due to their health expenditures.

Recent highlights

Pay-for-performance debate: not seeing the forest for the trees

A new commentary on P4P has been published in the Journal Health Systems & Reform.

Aligning PFM and health financing

The document offers guidance for improving alignment between PFM systems and health financing policy in support of UHC.

Earmarking for health: from theory to practice

A new publication sheds light on the realities of earmarking revenues for health.

Public financing for health in Africa: from Abuja to the SDGs

This report highlights opportunities for accelerated progress toward universal health coverage (UHC).

Universal coverage

Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.