Lessons from Mexican health care reform in the United States?
The Supreme Court decision that upheld the Affordable Care Act has not settled the question of health care reform in the United States by a long shot. Health care and prescription drug issues will dominate the debate in the country leading up to the fall election for Congress and President.
Writing in The Lancet, a leading medical public policy journal, a group of public health experts highlight the progress that Mexico has made towards achieving comprehensive health coverage, as well discussing some of the healthcare challenges that remain for the country, which has a population of more than 100 million.
Mexico, like Canada, did in the early 60’s, has moved towards an ambitious government-funded scheme which aimed to ensure that even the poorest Mexican citizens have access to an adequate standard of health care – from treatment for the most pressing chronic and catastrophic illnesses, to preventative healthcare that tries to lower medical system costs by dealing with chronic health issues like diabetes early, as well as expanding vaccination programs.
This change in Mexico began in only 2003, until than adequate medical insurance was only available to Mexican citizens who could access social security schemes through their employment, or via expensive private insurance. Those people who were not in regular salaried employment and could not afford private health insurance were unable to access adequate health care, unless they were able to meet significant out-of-pocket expenses.
Since the program began in 2004, over 50 million Mexicans have now been covered for health care under the new plan.
The study acknowledges problems with the new program. Rural health care is still poor, and doctors are being lured away due to low payments under the public system.
The question that faces the U.S electorate this election is question that Canada faced in 60’s and Mexico a decade ago and that is, is the expanded coverage under a government-funded program something the people can support, considering the higher public expenditures it means?
What are your opinions on U.S healthcare reform? Do you want to see a move towards universal coverage, or prefer less government involvement in your healthcare?