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Latin America Investment News on Viva Tropical

Let’s Take a Good Look at Mexican Health Care

Article Summary:

When Mexico and America health care systems are contrasted it seems, at least on paper, that Mexico’s system is superior, leading some experts to say it might be wise for President Obama to take a health care lesson from our Latin neighbors.

Photo Credit: Future Challenges

Original Article Text From Little About:

The State of Mexican Healthcare

Mexican Healthcare Structure
In Mexico, there is a mix of both private and public healthcare, which makes the system quite complex. Some employers pay for part of the insurance; some don’t. There is also a public healthcare system which was designed so that illness would not bankrupt poor families. It is called Seguro Popular, which means Social Security, and is in essence universal coverage. Prior to the development of Seguro Popular, half of Mexico’s population did not have access to decent medical care. Those that did have it did so through their formal job, but that left millions for whom healthcare was too expensive or inaccessible.

The healthcare reform in Mexico came about because of the inequality of care. It was unjust that a person’s job determined whether he or she had health insurance and that where a person lived determined the quality of care. Even through the global financial crisis, the government never stopped funding the reforms, but instead worked tirelessly for their implementation.

The American Healthcare System
In America, the hallmark of the health system is its privatization. It is a capitalist system. However, since there is more demand than insurance companies, it is the companies who have the final say in healthcare. The Affordable Care Act was designed to make healthcare more affordable and less cost-prohibitive, but it mainly achieved its goals by limiting the power of insurance companies. For example, because of the healthcare reforms, it is now illegal for a health insurance company to deny coverage because of a previous condition. However, the government does not control the costs, making it still cost-prohibitive for some citizens. That is left to the private insurance companies, so people on different plans pay wildly different amounts for the same care. It is also unbelievably complex, with hundreds of different plans, benefits, and limitations.

Even after the Affordable Care Act was put in place, the cost of American healthcare is incredibly high. For example, doctors’ education is higher than anywhere else in the world and prescription drugs in America cost about 10 times their UK counterparts. In Mexico, medical spending comes to only 6 percent of GDP, but American spending is about 17 percent of GDP. More money, in America, does equal better health, because healthcare is so expensive. The high cost of American care has led to increasing numbers of people seeking medical care abroad, particularly Mexico and India, as these countries offer universal healthcare that is much less expensive than America. There are, however, benefits to the American system. Wait times are low, and America is a leader in cancer treatment.

Mexico and America Contrasted
One key difference between American and Mexican healthcare systems is that Mexico views healthcare as a universal right. In fact, the Mexican Constitution of 1983 recognized this right officially. In America, that language only started to be used with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It is this underlying philosophy that accounts for the major differences in healthcare access between the two countries.

That is not to say the Mexican healthcare system is perfect; they still struggle with access to quality healthcare, particularly in rural areas. It is not, however, as much of a struggle as it is in America, with its high-cost private health system.

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Latin America Investment News on Viva Tropical