People typically imagine universal health care to be free trips to the doctor and prescriptions; however, there are various methods for providing it on a national scale; some forms are free while others require insurance premiums or copays; all systems exist to ensure all individuals can access necessary medical treatment without incurring financial strain.

The global health community has pledged its efforts toward universal health coverage (UHC), as a key goal of the Sustainable Development Goals. As an influential policy forum focused on economic and social wellbeing, the OECD plays an invaluable role in driving this agenda forward by using its collective expertise in helping countries strengthen their healthcare systems in order to achieve UHC.

As well as improving health and well-being, universal healthcare coverage can also benefit economic outcomes by lowering healthcare expenditure costs. Health-related expenditures often constitute one of the biggest components of budgets worldwide and may reduce investments elsewhere – like education or infrastructure projects. Achieve and sustain universal health coverage will help address this challenge by guaranteeing everyone access to quality, affordable essential health care.

One method for providing universal health care is through a single-payer system, in which all insured people are covered through government healthcare services while some services may also be paid for through private insurers. Countries already operating this model include Canada, Netherlands, Japan and France while in the US Medicare and Veterans Health Administration are both funded through taxpayer dollars while private health plans may also exist alongside this model.

Public-private partnerships offer another form of universal healthcare coverage. Under this model, governments provide basic health coverage while private providers supplement that coverage with additional or supplementary benefits. While this approach may expand health coverage quickly and cost effectively, it may also create inefficiencies within the health care delivery system by encouraging providers to prioritize profit over providing basic health services.

Full public systems of universal healthcare represent another model for universal coverage. Under this system, all health spending is funded via taxes, which may work well in countries like those belonging to the OECD or with strong tax bases such as Africa; however, implementation in poorer nations with lower tax revenues can prove more challenging.

Attaining universal health coverage (UHC) is a complex undertaking, demanding significant investments from countries. Beyond strengthening and reorienting systems towards primary health care – which forms the basis of UHC – countries must also make investments to identify inequalities so decisions can be made about improving access for underserved populations.