US backs United Nations measure in favor of universal health coverage

By Elise Viebeck
The Hill, December 12, 2012

The United States has backed a United Nations draft resolution favoring universal healthcare coverage.

The nonbinding measure calls on U.N. member states to ensure citizens’ access to health insurance, and was approved by the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.…


Adopting Consensus Text, General Assembly Encourages Member States to Plan, Pursue Transition of National Health Care Systems Towards Universal Coverage

General Assembly
United Nations, December 12, 2012

Recognizing the intrinsic role of health in achieving international development goals, the General Assembly today – through the unanimous adoption of a resolution on global health and foreign policy – encouraged Governments to plan or pursue the transition towards universal access to affordable and quality health-care services.

By that text, the Assembly, calling for more attention to health as an important cross-cutting policy issue, urged Member States, civil society and international organizations to incorporate universal health coverage in the international development agenda and in the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The Assembly also recognized that improving social protection towards universal coverage “is an investment in people that empowers them to adjust to changes in the economy and the labour market and helps support a transition to a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable economy”.  As such, while planning or pursuing the transition towards universal coverage, Member States were encouraged to continue investing in health-delivery systems to increase and safeguard the range and quality of services and meet the health needs of their populations.

Further, Member States were encouraged to recognize the links between the promotion of universal health coverage and other foreign policy issues, such as the social dimension of globalization, inclusive and equitable growth and sustainable development.


Agenda item 123

United Nations
General Assembly, Sixty-seventh session

Global Health and Foreign Policy

IV. Universal health coverage

56. Universal health coverage captures the aspiration that everyone will be able to obtain the high-quality health services they need without the risk of suffering severe financial hardship when using them. The goal of achieving universal health coverage has two important and interrelated components: coverage for everyone who needs health services (including prevention, promotion, treatment and rehabilitation) and coverage with financial risk protection.

57. Both components are critical to the fulfilment of the highest attainable level of health, a fundamental human right embedded in the WHO constitution of 1948 and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the same time, people value them for their own sake. They sleep securely at night knowing that the health services they might require are available and of good quality and that they can afford to use them.

Population figures by country

It is terrific that the United States has voted for a United Nations resolution in support of universal health coverage for all Member States. But what about the United States? The Affordable Care Act will leave about 30,000,000 uninsured, more than the entire population of each of 183 countries and territories. Oh, of course… the U.N. resolution is nonbinding.