The inclusion of diagnostics in national health insurance schemes


The Lancet Commission on Diagnostics highlighted a huge gap in access to diagnostic testing even for basic tests, particularly at the primary care level, and emphasised the need for countries to include diagnostics as part of their universal health coverage benefits packages. Despite the poor state of diagnostic-related services in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), little is known about the extent to which diagnostics are included in the health benefit packages. We conducted an analysis of seven Asian LMICs—Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Viet Nam—to understand this issue. We conducted a targeted review of relevant literature and applied a health financing framework to analyse the benefit packages available in each government-sponsored scheme. We found considerable heterogeneity in country approaches to diagnostics. Of the seven countries, only India has developed a national essential diagnostics list. No country presented a clear policy rationale on the inclusion of diagnostics in their scheme and the level of detail on the specific diagnostics which are covered under the schemes was also generally lacking. Government-sponsored insurance expansion in the eligible populations has reduced the out-of-pocket health payment burden in many of the countries but overall, there is a lack of access, availability and affordability for diagnostic-related services.