Health policies and data

Universal Health Coverage


Universal Health Coverage is about everyone having access to good quality health services without suffering financial hardship. Although most OECD countries offer all their citizens affordable access to a comprehensive package of health services, they face challenges in sustaining and enhancing such universal systems. These challenges are as relevant in low- and middle-income countries, so that expanding coverage also translates into better health outcomes for all.

The OECD’s contribution to helping countries achieve and sustain universal health coverage

The OECD, with its core mission to promote policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world, brings much relevant experience supporting countries to achieve and sustain universal health coverage (UHC).

The OECD monitors and evaluates key aspects of universal health coverage, and assesses the future sustainability of universal health systems. OECD country experiences can also offer valuable lessons for other countries seeking to attain universal health coverage. 

Universal Health Coverage

Enhancing universal health coverage today

Quality, access and affordability are at the heart of reforms to successfully enhance universal health coverage.

Sustaining universal health coverage in the future

Sustaining universal health coverage requires assessing the longer-term costs of health care and associated fiscal sustainability issues.

Monitoring progress towards UHC

The 2019 UHC Global monitoring report, which the OECD contributed to, contains some stark messages. According to the report, the world will need to double health coverage between now and 2030. It warns that if current trends continue, up to 5 billion people will still be unable to access health care in 2030.

The report calls for countries to increase spending on primary health care by at least 1% of their gross domestic product (GDP) if the world is to close glaring coverage gaps and meet health targets agreed in 2015.

The report highlights that more people are suffering the consequences of paying for services out of their own pockets than 15 years ago. About 925 million people spend more than 10% of their household income on healthcare; 200 million people spend more than 25% of their income on health. And impoverishment due to paying for health care increased except among the extremely poor.

“It’s shocking to see a growing proportion of the population struggling to make ends meet because they are paying too much for their own health, even in advanced economies” “The only places where this is not happening is in countries that invest more and more effectively in health.” Angel Gurría, Secretary General of the OECD.

Country reviews on Transitioning to universal health coverage

Lessons learned for low- and middle-income countries: Over the past few decades, a number of OECD countries have successfully made the transition to universal health coverage. OECD reviews of health policies in member countries, together with work in middle-income countries, can provide useful policy lessons for countries transitioning to universal health coverage.


Price setting and price regulation in health care: lessons for advancing Universal Health Coverage - Main report and Case studies


Released on Monday 17 June, 9h00 Paris time

This report identifies the objectives of price setting and price regulation in health care, distils "best practices" in price setting and price regulation, assesses how (cost-) effective policy instruments have been used to reach stated objectives and draws policy lessons to drive low- and middle-income country action.

It is jointly developed by the OECD and the WHO Centre for Health Development in Kobe (WKC). 

further reading


Download "Universal Health Coverage: Facts and Figures"
(December 2018)


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