State budget transfers to Health Insurance Funds for universal health coverage: institutional design patterns and challenges of covering those outside the formal sector in Eastern European high-income countries

Ileana Vilcu, Inke Mathauer

International Journal for Equity in Health (2016) 15:7
Published online: 15 January 2016


Introduction: Many countries from the European region, which moved from a government financed and provided health system to social health insurance, would have had the risk of moving away from universal health coverage if they had followed a “traditional” approach. The Eastern European high-income countries studied in this paper managed

to avoid this potential pitfall by using state budget revenues to explicitly pay health insurance contributions on behalf of certain (vulnerable) population groups who have difficulties to pay these contributions themselves. The institutional design aspects of their government revenue transfer arrangements are analysed, as well as their impact on universal health coverage progress. Methods: This regional study is based on literature review and review of databases for the performance assessment. The analytical framework focuses on the following institutional design features: rules on eligibility for contribution exemption, financing and pooling arrangements, and purchasing arrangements and benefit package design.

Results: More commonalities than differences can be identified across countries: a broad range of groups eligible for exemption from payment of health insurance contributions, full state contributions on behalf of the exempted groups, mostly mandatory participation, integrated pools for both the exempted and contributors, and relatively comprehensive benefit packages. In terms of performance, all countries have high total population coverage rates, but there are still challenges regarding financial protection and access to and utilization of health care services, especially for low income people. Conclusion: Overall, government revenue transfer arrangements to exempt vulnerable groups from contributions are one option to progress towards universal health coverage.

KeywordsPalabras clave:

Universal Health Coverage; Vulnerable Population Groups Outside Formal Sector Work; Government Subsidization of Health Insurance; State Budget Transfers; Financial Protection


How to obtain this articleComo obtener este artículo: click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.