Health financing

Fact sheet

Key facts

  • For tens of millions of people in the Asia Pacific region, needed health services are simply not affordable.
  • In this part of the world, economic growth has been the fastest in the world. However, the social development, in particular the development of health system has not been as fast as expected. Many people still cannot afford the services they; others although received the services encountered financial ruin due to the payment.
  • Levels of out-of-pocket spending for many countries in the Western Pacific Region are among the highest in the world.
  • The ultimate goal is universal health coverage so that everyone can afford appropriate health services, including preventive, curative and rehabilitative services at an affordable cost.
  • WHO in the Western Pacific Region developed a health financing strategy for the years 2010 to 2015 which guides the Member States moving towards universal health coverage.

Political commitment is the key

  • The Health Financing Strategy for the Asia Pacific Region (2010-2015) will help governments analyse their health financing situations and identify specific actions to achieve universal coverage.
  • Appropriate health financing policies can help reduce these barriers to access, and thereby extend health gains to those most in need.

Health Financing Strategy for the Asia Pacific Region (2010-2015)

This strategy outlines some important issues in the area of health care financing:

  • Out-of-pocket spending should not exceed 30%-40% of total health expenditure.
  • Total health expenditures should be at least 4%-5% of GDP Among which the major funding source should be public through either general taxation or payroll tax.
  • Over 90% of the population should be covered by some form of prepayment schemes. Many health systems rely heavily on out-of-pocket spending as their main source of income.
  • Extensive safety-net programmes should be put in place for vulnerable populations.
  • The targets indicators in the strategy are useful as a guide for achieving universal coverage through appropriate health financing policies, but countries will need to set their own realistic targets
  • Sufficient public spending on health is essential for moving forward towards and maintaining universal health coverage. In many countries the government needs to make efforts to increase health spending through prioritizing health and expanding fiscal space.
  • Reducing fragmentation, duplication and setting appropriate incentives to health providers and suppliers of medicines are equally important for improving the efficiency of health spending.
  • In all undertakings, political commitment must prevail.