Health Insurance Coverage In Low-And Middle-Income Countries Remains Far From The Goal Of Universal Coverage

Simiao Chen, Pascal Geldsetzer, Qiushi Chen, Mosa Moshabela, Lirui Jiao, Osondu Ogbuoji, Ali Sie, Rifat Atun, Till Bärnighausen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study aimed to determine levels of health insurance coverage in low-and middle-income countries and how coverage varies by people’s sociodemographic characteristics. We conducted a population size–weighted, one-stage individual participant data meta-analysis of health insurance coverage, using a population-based sample of 2,035,401 participants ages 15–59 from nationally representative household surveys in fifty-six countries during the period 2006–18. One in five people (20.3 percent) across the fifty-six countries in our study had health insurance. Health insurance coverage exceeded 50 percent in only seven countries and 70 percent in only three countries. Substantially more people had public health insurance than private health insurance (71.4 percent versus 28.6 percent). We found that men and older, more educated, and wealthier people were more likely to have health insurance; these sociodemographic gradients in health insurance coverage were strongest in sub-Saharan Africa and followed traditional lines of privilege. Low-and middle-income countries need to massively expand health insurance coverage if they intend to use insurance to achieve universal health coverage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1142-1152
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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