Universal coverage and its impact on reproductive health services in Thailand

Reprod Health Matters. 2002 Nov;10(20):59-69. doi: 10.1016/s0968-8080(02)00087-3.


Thailand has recently introduced universal health care coverage for 45 million of its people, financed by general tax revenue. A capitation contract model was adopted to purchase ambulatory and hospital care, and preventive care and promotion, including reproductive health services, from public and private service providers. This paper describes the health financing system prior to universal coverage, and the extent to which Thailand has achieved reproductive health objectives prior to this reform. It then analyses the potential impact of universal coverage on reproductive health services. Whether there are positive or negative effects on reproductive health services will depend on the interaction between three key aspects: awareness of entitlement on the part of intended beneficiaries of services, the response of health care providers to capitation, and the capacity of purchasers to monitor and enforce contracts. In rural areas, the district public health system is the sole service provider and the contractual relationship requires trust and positive engagement with purchasers. We recommend an evidence-based approach to fine-tune the reproductive health services benefits package under universal coverage, as well as improved institutional capacity for purchasers and the active participation of civil society and other partners to empower beneficiaries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Financing, Government
  • Health Care Reform*
  • Health Priorities
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational
  • Reproductive Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Thailand
  • Universal Health Insurance*