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Democracies provide stronger universal health coverage than autocracies

Despite widespread recognition that universal health coverage is a political choice, the roles that a country’s political system plays in ensuring essential health services and minimizing financial risk remain poorly understood.

Despite widespread recognition that universal health coverage is a political choice, the roles that a country’s political system plays in ensuring essential health services and minimizing financial risk remain poorly understood.

To assess the relationships that democratic quality has with universal health coverage and government health financing, Tara Templin of Stanford University and coauthors examine both private and government observational data and indices from 170 countries from 1990 to 2019. Of those countries, 73 were classified as democratic and the remainder autocratic.

The authors found that for the democratic countries, per person government health spending increased from $326 to $601 during the study period; in contrast, in autocratic countries the per person spending grew less dramatically, going from $77 to $192. According to the authors, democracies are also more likely than autocracies to maintain universal health coverage, even amid economic recessions, which may have significance for the economic turndown spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During these times, the authors note, global institutions and development assistance providers may need to adjust their policy recommendations and activities to achieve the best possible results in countries where political leaders lack sufficient electoral incentives to provide high-quality health care to the citizenry.

Research authors found that democracies than autocracies are more likely to maintain universal health coverage, even amid economic recessions, which may have significance for the economic turndown spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit from Flickr: Patient Care Technician

Also in the issue:

  • Trust In Governments And Health Workers Low Globally, Influencing Attitudes Toward Health Information, Vaccines; Corrina Moucheraud and coauthors from the University of California Los Angeles
  • Competition From Biosimilars Drives Price Reductions For Biologics In The French Single-Payer Health System; James C. Robinson of the University of California Berkeley and Quentin Jarrion of the University Hospitals of Reims (France)
  • Pandemic Fatigue: The Effects Of The COVID-19 Crisis On Public Trust And Compliance With Regulations In Israel; Moran Bodas and Kobi Peleg of the Gertner Institution (Israel)

Read the complete research here.

NewsNarratives (formerly Wired Correspondence) aims to become an independent and progressive online magazine that will focus on underreported social issues and human interest stories in the Philippines and elsewhere written in narrative, longform journalism. We intend to extensively cover stories of people and communities whose struggles are left undercovered, unheard, or unaddressed by the governments or other institutions. But as a progressive publication, we focus less on what these institutions failed to do for them, rather focus more on what can still be done. Then again, it’s not all about the failures and struggles. We also want good stories that inspire and give hope. So, we will feature stories of people who won life’s struggles in hopes of learning from them and of ordinary individuals who are contributing extraordinary work whether to their family or community—yes, the many unsung heroes in our society. We aim to help and inspire people through our storytelling, by producing content that targets the heart to feel and provokes the brain to act on it—in a good way. We start all these in our own backyard, the Philippines, with a dream of pursuing elsewhere.

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