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IntroductionMaternal delivery is the costliest event during pregnancy, especially if a complicated delivery occurs that requires emergency hospital services. A health financing scheme or program that covers comprehensive maternal services, including specialized hospital services in the benefits health package, enhances maternal survival and improves financial risk protection.ObjectivesThe objective of this study is to identify factors that enable the inclusion of comprehensive maternal services in the benefits package of emerging health financing schemes in low and middle-income countries across selected world regions. Comprehensive care is presumed if, in addition to normal delivery, primary health care, and secondary or tertiary hospital care are included.MethodsMultilevel regression analysis is performed on 220 health financing schemes and programs initiated during the period 1990-2014, in 40 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America.FindingsAbout two-thirds of emerging health financing schemes explicitly include maternal care in the benefits package, and less-than-half cover comprehensive maternal services. Provision of any type of maternal services and comprehensive services is significantly associated with the presence of donors/philanthropies as funders, and beneficiaries possessing an ID card that links them to entitled services. Other enabling factors are prepayment and risk pooling. However, private and community insurances are negatively associated with covering comprehensive maternal services, because they are subject to market failures, such as adverse and risk selection.ConclusionsEmerging health financing schemes in low and upper-middle-income countries lag in coverage of maternal care. Advancing financial protection of these services in the health package needs policy attention, including government oversight and mandatory regulations. The enabling factors identified can enrich the ongoing discourse on Universal Health Coverage.

Original publication





PloS one

Publication Date





Department of Economics, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Santiago Chile.


Humans, Cross-Sectional Studies, Developing Countries, Maternal Health Services, Costs and Cost Analysis, Female, Healthcare Financing