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Historic Declaration on Universal Health Coverage

UN FlagThe ‘most comprehensive agreement ever’ on global health. That’s what the declaration is being called. During the United Nation’s (UN) recent General Assembly, the UN Member States adopted a high-level political declaration to ensure that all have access to essential, equitable and quality health services without experiencing financial hardship. The declaration accelerates progress towards universal health coverage by 2030. This includes:

  • Financial risk protection;
  • Access to quality essential health-care services;
  • Access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines; and
  • Vaccines for all.

 

Why Is This Important? 

At least half the world’s population still do not have access to essential health care services. This could include some employees in your company’s worldwide workforce. The obstacles are many. The UN says that among others, key barriers to universal health care achievement include:  

  • Poor infrastructures and availability of basic amenities,
  • Out of pocket payments and catastrophic expenditures,
  • Shortages and maldistribution of qualified health workers,
  • Prohibitively expensive good quality medicines and medical products,
  • Low access to digital health and innovative technologies.

Moving from declaration to implementation will require many resources and investment. During the General Assembly, the Vice-Minister of Health Commission of China presented a statement on behalf of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Health Working Group. This statement encourages an increase in health investment, optimization of health funds, and encourages improvement of equitable access to health care services and insurance.

What Is the Employer’s Role?

The UN declaration called on world leaders to increase investment in health care through primary, people-centered services. For companies who continue to invest in health and well-being programs for their global workforce, these themes are familiar. Through on-site clinics, supplementary health coverage, and in some cases access to telemedicine services, employers invest in their company programs to help employees navigate their local barriers to health care and can help reduce the inequities that lead to poor health, while improving workforce productivity.

Recommendations and Resources for Employers

  • Provide supplementary insurance in geographies where the public system is not enough. This applies to both developed and emerging markets. For example, in Canada, the majority of residents have private insurance for prescription drugs and other benefits, paid mostly through employers. In Australia, the federal government has introduced strong financial incentives for adults to purchase private hospital insurance resulting in approximately half purchasing such coverage.
  • Consider a global minimum core benefit strategy so that you can be assured employees have access to a core set of preventive services, well-being programs and/or essential benefits around the world.
  • In the U.S., assess primary care systems with NCQA’s Key Concepts which include team-based care, knowing your patients, patient-centered access and continuity, care management and support, care coordination and care transitions, performance measurement and quality improvement.
  • Promote and communicate World Immunization Week and host an on-site health or vaccine fair for employees.
  • Provide access to virtual and telemedicine where resources are limited.
  • Make sure your health insurance networks supply adequate providers and prescription coverage.
  • Consider an on-site clinic

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