The desirability and feasibility of scaling up community health insurance in low-income settings—lessons from Armenia

Tim Poletti, Dina Balabanova, Olga Ghazaryan, Hasmik Kocharyan, Margarita Hakobyan, Karen Arakelyan, Charles Normand
Social Science & Medicine 2007, 64 (3): 509-20
There is growing evidence that community financing mechanisms can raise additional revenue, increase equitable access to primary health care (PHC), and improve social protection. More recently there has been interest in scaling up community financing as a step towards universal coverage either via tax-based systems or social health insurance. Using key informant interviews and focus group discussions, this study sought to assess the desirability and feasibility of scaling-up community health insurance in Armenia. The results suggest that there is broad-based political support for scaling up the schemes and that community financing is synergistic with major health sector reforms. High levels of social capital within the rural communities should facilitate scaling up. Existing schemes have increased access and quality of care, but expansion of coverage is constrained by affordability, poor infrastructure, and weak linkages with the broader health system. Long-term subsidies and system-building will be essential if the expanded schemes are to be financially viable and pro-poor. Overall, successfully scaling up community financing in Armenia would depend on addressing a range of obstacles related to legislation, institutional capacity, human resources and resistance to change among certain stakeholders.

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