Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
URRIOLA, Rafael. Chile: social protection in health. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2006, vol.20, n.4, pp. 273-286. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892006000900013.
This piece begins with a brief discussion of the concepts leading to the social right to health protection. Special emphasis is placed on the principle of social cohesion, which has influenced social health protection in European countries. Chiles experience in this field from the 1990s to the present is described, as exemplified in three dimensions. In the first place, social security coverage is presented as a means to achieve universal (horizontal) coverage. A discussion follows on vertical coverage, where the author identifies health problems for which insured persons have guaranteed rights of access to medical care. This section describes available emergency care, primary health care, and the special plan for Universal Access to Explicit Guarantees (Acceso Universal de Garantías Explícitas de salud, or AUGE). Thirdly, the discussion covers the funding sources supporting the Chilean health care system: Government subsidies, contributions to social security, and out-of-pocket disbursements for private care. Chiles public health system has various special programs. One of them is catastrophic insurance, which covers 100% of the care needed for complex and very costly treatments. Older persons (over 65) have coverage for 100% of the cost of eyeglasses and hearing aids, and for 50% of the cost of home care. If life expectancy is an appropriate indicator of health system results, it is worth noting that Chile and the United States of America have both achieved a life expectancy of 77 years, even though Chile spends only 5.9% of its gross domestic product on health care, as compared to the 15% spent by the United States.
Keywords : universal coverage; health care costs; health services accessibility; economics; insurance [health]; Chile.