UHC Forward Blog

Philippines Seeks to Expand Medical Benefits

New bill would expand coverage to 40 percent for the country's population

At least 40 percent of the country's population of 94 million will be covered by the Philippines Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) if House Bill 4150 passes congress on July 25 as expected. The bill consolidates a number of bills seeking to amend the National Health Insurance Act of 1995 and expands the coverage of medical benefits currently offered by PhilHealth to a larger sector.

The bill provides for the PhilHealth coverage of the poorest 20 percent of the Philippine population as identified through means test, and payment of their premium contributions, which will be subsidized by the government through the Department of Health.

The bill will also identify the poorest 20 percent of the population that will be subsidized by local government units (LGUs).

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BRICS Countries Vow to Help Poor Nations in Health

The group is willing to play a larger role in financing global health efforts

On Monday, July 11, 2011, Health ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - the BRICS countries - held their first ministerial-level meeting of health officials in Beijing to help fight diseases in the poorest countries.

In collaboration with international health organizations such as the World Health Organization and the U.N. agency, UNAIDS, BRICS pledged to explore the transfer of technologies to the developing world to enable poor nations to produce cheap and effective lifesaving medicines.

Universal Coverage Ensuring Value-for Money Healthcare is Key

Affordability and sustainability of universal health coverage

Francoise Cluzeau is a Senior Advisor for NICE International. She attended the June 2011 JLN Mombasa Workshop as an international observer.

At the JLN workshop in Mombasa we heard about many creative schemes targeting improved coverage of the informal sector - such as the establishment of the Mutuelles in Rwanda, the Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme in India, the national citizen ID number for universal coverage in Thailand and many more exciting initiatives from other countries. At the same time we heard common issues evoked about the affordability and sustainability of universal healthcare coverage.

Universal Health Coverage: What's all the buzz about?

Countries from South Africa to India to Indonesia are moving to provide universal coverage programs: Complexities and challenges

This piece was written in March 2011 for the Global Health Council (GHC) Blog 4 Global Health.

Universal Health Coverage. Still debated in the United States, the concept is taking off in countries from South Africa to India to Indonesia.

Syria: Healthcare Reforms

Valuable insight into health care reform in the middle east

This article was originally distributed in the Searchlight Newsletter produced by Strategic Foresight Group

Public hospitals are the main providers of health care in Syria. Several factors have pushed the government to launch a number of reforms in 2010, aiming to improve the quality of public hospitals. According to Dr Deep Hazimeh, former deputy minister of health, “the strategy now is not to have more hospitals but better quality and more specialised hospitals and we are focusing on that.” A few public hospitals, especially in the capital Damascus, have already implemented the reform programmes and hospitals in other parts of the country are expected to introduce the new system in the next few years.

Informal Sector Enrollment as a Tool for Improving Quality

Enrollment as a “pay for performance” technique

Helen L. Smits, MD, attended the JLN Mombasa workshop as a representative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). She is an internist who has dedicated her life to public health and healthcare management. Her current work focuses on improving the quality of care in African countries.

During the presentations and discussions in Mombasa, we learned a lot about the potential for community-based organizations to contribute to the process for enrolling the informal sector into insurance schemes. Examples included the women’s groups described in Frances’ Lund’s post, the community organizations used by RSBY in India, and the microfinance organizations used by KaSAPI in the Philippines.

Integrating Social Franchising and Insurance

A marriage made in heaven?

The last decade has seen an important expansion of the social franchising model of service delivery, both in terms of the number of brands available and their geographic presence, as well as the scope of services offered. The 2011 Clinical Social Franchising Compendium identifies 50 franchises that are operating in 31 countries across the world - that is more than double the number of networks in operation just four years ago. The model’s geographic expansion has also been notable. New networks have sprung up in 17 new countries since 2003, covering larger parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, and more recently, Central America.

Although expanding steadily, service delivery through franchising is still in large part small scale, focused on a very specific set of interventions (e.g., primarily family planning and reproductive health), and remains out of reach for the very poor.

Raising Revenue to Cover the Informal Sector

Different strategies for raising revenue to cover the informal sector

Panelists representing Ghana, Mali, Indonesia, Rwanda and the World Bank discussed the challenges of raising revenues for covering the informal sector at the JLN workshop session in Mombasa on June 7, 2011. Debated were the relative merits of different strategies for raising revenues such as general taxes, payroll taxes, special earmarked taxes, donor and community contributions.

During the June 7, 2011, JLN workshop session on raising revenue to cover the informal sector it emerged that most countries, in fact, utilize a mix of financing sources, although one source may be more dominant than the others. The financing source may also differ according to the population group(s) being targeted – thus payroll taxes tend to predominate when it concerns the formal sector, while a mix of sources is more relevant to cover the informal sector due to the many complexities of raising sufficient premium income from that sector and the large numbers who may not be able to pay premiums for themselves.

Public-Private Engagement for Better Health in Africa

New World Bank Group Report Assesses the Good, the Bad, and the Innovative

Connor Spreng, an economist at the World Bank, moderated a session on the IFC flagship report "Healthy Partnerships: How Governments Can Engage the Private Sector to Improve Health in Africa" at the JLN Mombasa Workshop.

Engaging Informal Workers During Insurance Program Design

Advocating for women working in the informal economy to participate in the design of programs benefitting them

This blog was written by Frances Lund, Director, Social Protection at WIEGO and Senior Research Associate for the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Ms. Lund will conduct a session titled "Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) Initiative" during the Expanding Coverage JLN Workshop in Mombasa, Kenya from June 6-10, 2011

On Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, I will conduct a session on Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and our work with member-based organizations of poorer working people, especially women informal workers. WIEGO works to enable the voice of informal women workers – who are ‘the experts’ in terms of their own health needs and priorities – to be heard in different platforms.