Blog by Onno Ruhl, Dutch national and World Bank Country Director in India, and Somil Nagpal, Senior Health Specialist. This blog was published on December 16, 2014 on the World Bank website.
Scaling up public health investments alone will not suffice. It will be equally critical to improve accountability.
On Friday, 12 December, for the first time the world celebrated universal health coverage day. On this day two years ago, the United Nations unanimously endorsed a resolution urging governments to ensure that all people can access healthcare without financial hardship.
Until now, most people in India have dug deep into their pockets to pay doctors, pharmacies and diagnostic centres. Paying in this manner—or out-of-pocket spending, as it is called—has been the norm for a long time in India but this is not how most of the world pays for healthcare. In most other countries, including some less developed ones, out-of-pocket spending is far less common than we think. It is far more likely that people pay their medical expenses in some organized manner, such as through tax-financed healthcare or some form of health insurance.