Understanding Universal Health Coverage
When proponents like the World Health Organization (WHO) talk about universal health coverage, the succinct dictionary definition of the word “universal” capsulizes their vision: “available equitably to all members of a society.”1
That’s a good place for students earning their master’s degrees in healthcare administration, healthcare administrators, and other key stakeholders to start increasing their understanding of universal health coverage.
What Is Universal Healthcare?
“Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship,” the WHO explains. “It covers the full continuum of essential health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.”2
How Is UHC Provided?
Countries have patterned their universal healthcare systems after three main models, experts say, with some variations. Here are summaries from the American Healthcare for All Advocacy Program (AHAAP):3
The Bismarck Model
“The Bismarck model is a universal healthcare system where everyone is required to have health insurance by contributing to a government sickness fund, run by non-government insurers. This sickness fund pays for those that require medical care, even if they couldn’t afford to pay into the fund for a while due to poverty or unemployment. … All insurance companies are private … though they can’t make a profit off of the basic government plan.”3
This universal health coverage model originated in Germany and is followed by countries that include Japan.
The Beveridge Model
“The Beveridge healthcare model is funded by taxation rather than premiums like in the Bismarck model and is fully controlled by the government. Insurance providers in the government network have to follow government mandates as to costs and services, but anyone in need of care can receive it anytime without having to pay for that specific service, so they don’t get a medical bill. This means that everyone can access healthcare without paying directly, but they pay taxes to fund everyone’s healthcare and these funds are distributed by the government.”4
This universal healthcare model originated in the United Kingdom and has been adopted in countries that include New Zealand and Spain.
National Health Insurance Model
"This system has elements of both Beveridge and Bismarck. It uses private-sector providers, but payment comes from a government-run insurance program that every citizen pays into. Since there’s no need for marketing, no financial motive to deny claims, and no profit, these universal insurance programs tend to be cheaper and much simpler administratively than American-style for-profit insurance.”5
Canada uses this universal healthcare model, as do Taiwan and South Korea.
What About the United States?
In the U.S., healthcare coverage is available in several different forms, but it is not universal.
“The healthcare model in the United States relies on a direct-fee system, where people in the U.S. have private health insurance plans. In most cases, people can get health insurance through their employers, though Americans are required to pay out of the pocket for any medical costs that their insurance doesn’t cover,” the AHAAP says.6
In 2022, 7.9% of the American population didn’t have health insurance at all.7 “Many uninsured citizens are still able to access some form of healthcare, either through public clinics, government programs, charity, or other means, but it is infinitely more difficult and tenuous to get it,” the AHAAP says.6
America’s mix of healthcare options includes government funding for Medicare, for adults 65 and older and for some people with disabilities, and programs for veterans and people with low incomes.6
Getting to Universal Healthcare
WHO is helping to coordinate a global effort to make healthcare coverage available and affordable to all, with a goal of having 1 billion more people covered by UHC by 2025.8
“In countries with fragile health systems, we focus on technical assistance to build national institutions and service delivery to fill critical gaps in emergencies. In more robust health system settings, we drive public health impact towards health coverage for all through policy dialogue for the systems of the future and strategic support to improve performance,” the WHO says.2
Answer the Call for Healthcare Administrators
The U.S. needs more health and medical services managers to lead through America’s healthcare opportunities and challenges. Between 2022 and 2032, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be an average of 54,700 openings each year for these healthcare professionals.9
You can prepare to meet that demand by earning a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree online from Walden University.
Aligned with the National Center for Healthcare Leadership model, Walden’s online MHA degree program combines industry knowledge with the practical competencies you’ll need for a leadership career.
You can choose Walden’s General Program, or you can customize your studies with an optional specialization in Leadership and Organizational Development.
In the accredited university’s healthcare administration master’s program, you can also select the completion option that suits your schedule and learning style. Traditional, course-based learning may be the right option if you like the structure of a set schedule and deadlines. If you prefer working at your own pace, Walden also offers the MHA program in its Tempo Learning® format.
No matter which completion option you choose, you’ll enjoy the flexibility of Walden’s online learning experience. A leader in distance education for more than 50 years, Walden has designed its MHA program so you can log in to your coursework on your schedule. As a working professional, you can stay active in your career and personal life while earning a degree.
Expand your healthcare administration knowledge and skills so you can provide high-level leadership to benefit the local, or global, community.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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