Health financing systems have a key role in achieving universal health coverage (UHC) across the globe. However, little is known about how best to monitor health financing system progress towards UHC, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This is a protocol of a study that will aim to assess health financing system progress towards achieving UHC in Iran.
An explanatory mixed-method approach will be used in two phases. In the quantitative phase, the performance of the Iranian health financing system will be assessed using a well-established set of indicators to draw on progress over 5-year intervals starting in the year 2000 up to the present. Data will be extracted from the global health expenditure database using a specific form and will be classified in accordance with each indicator. A qualitative phase will then take place considering the Kutzin et al. framework and by using health financing progress matrices. The qualitative phase will consist of two successive stages; first, a descriptive overview on the major health coverage schemes along with key attributes of each scheme. This initial mapping will be the underlying background for the second stage. In the second stage, the matrices comprised of a series of questions and relevant to the core functions of health financing and cross-cutting options will be invested in enhancing the evaluation of the ongoing reforms or policies. In this phase, data will be collected by reviewing national policy documents and in-depth interviews with key informants who will be recruited using purposive sampling. Finally, a policy discussion with key stakeholders will be held in order to review and verify the consistency between the current health financing policy and UHC goals.
This study will provide a comprehensive image about the current status of the national health financing system progress towards achieving UHC in Iran. Such assessment will give detailed insight about the performance of the current financing system through identifying encountered challenges. Furthermore, some other defects in the design of the financing system are expected to appear. In all likelihood, the results will be fruitful enough to make informed decisions about interventions and policies in relation to UHC.
Ethics and dissemination
The study protocol has been approved by the Ethics Committee for Research at Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Informed consent will be obtained from all key informants and the data will be collected and transcribed anonymously in order to maintain utmost confidentiality. The results will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and presented in national and international conferences and meetings.