In Mexico you’ll find a combination of public and private healthcare, which leads to a system that’s quite complex. While some employers cover a portion of their employees’ health insurance, many don’t. There’s also a public provision that’s designed to maintain coverage for the poor. Known as Seguro Popular, or popular insurance, it’s generally recognized as a universal plan.
Development of Mexico’s Universal Health System
Seguro Popular is a government-funded, ambitious program designed to ensure that the poorest of citizens have access to an array of preventative health services such as diabetes screening and vaccinations. It also provides treatment for catastrophic and chronic illnesses. There have been increases in a number of key health indicators, including cervical cancer screenings, treatment for acute respiratory infections among children, and prenatal care. Even during the widespread global crisis, these reforms maintained their funding.
Before Seguro Popular was developed, roughly half of the population didn’t have access to decent medical care. Those lucky enough to have health insurance typically got it through their jobs. That left millions of citizens for whom access to medical coverage was simply too expensive. A primary reason healthcare reform was initiated in Mexico was the glaring inequality of care among its citizens. Basically, it was perceived as unjust that an individual’s occupation determined whether or not they had health insurance, or the fact that where someone lived often determined the level of care received.
Comparison to America’s Health Coverage
Despite recent laws to reform the American health system, privatization is still largely in effect. The Affordable Care Act is designed to make access to health services less cost prohibitive. Essentially, insurance providers now have limited powers and, for example, cannot deny coverage to an individual because of previous medical conditions. However, the costs are not fully government controlled, which still makes health insurance unaffordable for some citizens. Another negative is that the system is now incredibly complex. There are hundreds of limitations, benefits, requirements, and plans.
A major difference between the Mexican and American healthcare systems is that Mexico looks at coverage as a universal right for its citizens. In fact, this right is part of the Mexican Constitution, while in America such language only started when the Affordable Care Act was passed. It’s this underlying philosophy that’s the main difference in access to health coverage between the countries.
Achieving a Significant Milestone
Of course, the current Mexican healthcare system isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Many citizens, particularly in poor rural regions, still struggle to gain access to quality care. However, it’s much easier than in many other countries, especially when compared to those with private, high-cost health systems. Still, there are challenges to be met. Equalizing the quality of services and addressing the continual infrastructure investment will ensure a sustainable program.
Well over 50 million previously uninsured citizens are now part of the healthcare system, which was accomplished in less than a decade. Even those who were initially critical of the program now acknowledge that Mexico’s healthcare reform has saved lives and offers families valuable protection against devastating illness. Overall, the quality and accessibility of health services have improved dramatically in Mexico in recent years.