Health policies and data

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, together with WHO and the World Bank as the Secretariat of UHC2030, is working to consolidate the UHC2030 strategic narrative and engage UHC stakeholders to promote translation of UHC commitments into action in countries.

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 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.

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 healthcare in 2030.

The report calls for countries to increase spending on primary healthcare 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 healthcare 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.

Delivering Quality Health Services: A Global Imperative


Released July 2018

Universal health coverage (UHC) aims to provide health security and universal access to essential care services without financial hardship to individuals, families and communities. But UHC should not be implemented without considering the quality of the care provided. Quality means care that is effective, safe, people-centered, timely, equitable, integrated and efficient. High-quality care improves health outcomes and reduces waste. It is integral to a high-value, sustainable health system. While significant progress has been made to improve care quality, more effort is needed in both developing and developed countries.
This report describes the current situation with regard to UHC and global quality of care, and outlines the steps governments, health services and their workers, together with citizens and patients need to urgently take. 

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.


further reading

Health at a Glance series

G7 and G20 involvement

Other publications


Download "Universal Health Coverage: Facts and Figures"
(December 2019)


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