Health financing

Voluntary health insurance: potentials and limits in moving towards UHC

Inke Mathauer, Joseph Kutzin

Publication details

Editors: World Health Organization
Number of pages: 16
Publication date: 2018
Languages: English, French
WHO reference number: WHO/HIS/HGF/Health Financing Policy Brief/18.5



Voluntary health insurance (VHI) can be defined as a prepaid pooling arrangement that receives voluntary funds and pools them separately. The purpose of this brief policy is to explore the potentials and limits of VHI for progress towards UHC. It outlines why it is important to reflect on the contribution to VHI for UHC. The policy brief then explores how VHI fits within health financing policy, followed by a section on what we know from theory and practice about VHI, revealing the inherent challenges of VHI, the overall limited coverage improvements and the potentially distorting impacts on the health system.

A conclusion and a WHO perspective are offered at the end: Depending on the specific role of VHI in a health system, it could pose opportunities and risks for equitable progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). It should neither be ignored nor blindly promoted, but instead managed wisely. Countries need to clarify the main public and complementary private (including VHI) funding roles in the system.

Related topics

Related documents