Many commentators, including WHO, have advocated progress towards universal health coverage on the grounds that it leads to improvements in population health. In this report we review the most robust cross-country empirical evidence on the links between expansions in coverage and population health outcomes, with a focus on the health effects of extended risk pooling and prepayment as key indicators of progress towards universal coverage across health systems. The evidence suggests that broader health coverage generally leads to better access to necessary care and improved population health, particularly for poor people. However, the available evidence base is limited by data and methodological constraints, and further research is needed to understand better the ways in which the effectiveness of extended health coverage can be maximised, including the effects of factors such as the quality of institutions and governance.
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