Law for Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
For all aspects of health, there are binding rules that govern the rights and responsibilities of governments, health workers, companies, civil society and a country’s population. Together these rules make up the legal framework, or legal architecture for health. They take many forms including: statutory laws, regulatory and administrative laws, contracts, case law, and customary laws. Who is involved in making these rules, and the form they take, differs from country to country.
There are also many rules that structure what health organizations and individuals should do, and what they may not do. This interaction between different health laws results in health system functions being carried out and health products and services being delivered.
Governments use health laws for:
- Establishing important health policy goals (including universal health coverage);
- Implementing health policy;
- Enabling the effective operation of key health system functions and regulating inputs (service provision, health workforce, medical products and technologies, financing, health information and governance);
- Creating the health systems architecture, establishing health organizations and networks, establishing mandates, duties and accountabilities;
- Managing and responding to risks to personal health and a country’s health security;
- Applying international health agreements and development goals at country level;
- Build strong foundations for good governance to enable meaningful participation by all types of individuals and health stakeholders, protect rights and define responsibilities, and
- Establish predictable, appropriate and fair rules for facilitating the operation of health markets and setting norms for responsible health behavior.
How does law create UHC?
- By providing legal recognition of access rights to essential health services, essential medicines and vaccines and by removing legal access barriers to universal access including discrimination.
UHC can be defined as “the existence of a legal mandate for universal access to health services and evidence that the vast majority of the population has meaningful access to these services”. All countries that have achieved UHC have legislated to formalize the commitment UHC.
- By ensuring financial protection. UHC financing reforms aimed at providing financial protection, rely on legal mechanisms.
Revenue raising, pooling, purchasing, and the definition of a countries benefit package all rely on law.
- By assuring health care quality.
Six health care quality objectives are critical to efforts towards UHC: safety, equity, efficacy, patient centeredness, efficiency, timeliness, all rely on law for their achievement. Legal tools for UHC quality include: standard setting, licensing of health workers and products, accreditation of health services and facilities, clinical protocols, reporting systems, establishing monitoring and accountability mechanisms and processes, compliance monitoring, auditing and the use of sanctions.