Tuesday, December 04, 2012

What Can Happen When You Extend Health Care

The Economist tells us what can happen when you extend health care to "the overwhelming majority" of your people:

Mexicans’ health has perked up dramatically in some areas. Since 2008, when Seguro Popular began providing a vaccine against rotavirus, a common cause of diarrhoea, deaths from the illness have fallen by 60%. When the programme started to pay for treatment of acute leukaemia in children, the survival rate improved from three in ten to seven in ten. Nearly a third of women with breast cancer used to abandon treatment because they could not afford it. Since 2008, when treatment became free, the drop-out rate has come down almost to zero.
Insurance has saved many people from another affliction: poverty. When the poorer half of the population had to pay for medicines or procedures not covered by state hospitals, millions of families were bankrupted by illness. Julio Frenk, a former health secretary who oversaw the beginning of Seguro Popular and is now dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health, recalls meeting a family in which the mother had needed a Caesarean section and the baby had spent a couple of weeks in intensive care. The child survived, but the medical bill cost his father his animals and tools and meant that his brother had to be taken out of school. “People liquidated their productive assets and their poverty was transmitted to the next generation,” says Mr Frenk. Until the late 1990s nearly 7% of families were dragged below the poverty line each year by medical emergencies. By 2010 the figure had fallen to less than 3%.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article, thank you for sharing.