Procuring Health in La Argentina
"The Argentinean Health System isn't really a system - its more like a non-system"
Our lecture on the Argentinean Health System was given by Pierre de Paepe (a researcher at the Tropical Medicine Institute in Argentina).
I've included some notes from his lecture below to flesh out the health aspect of our studies.
Argentinean Medical School:
Public School - better quality since it is competitive and selective in graduation
Private School - worse quality since student pays into school and graduation is guaranteed
The Three Systems of Argentine Health:
1.) Public System (For the Poor/Indigent Population)
The quality of physicians between the public and private systems are the same hoever the technology and facilities are different. Most people have jobs in the informal economy or ar immigrants to argentina.
2.) Obras Sociales (50% of the Population)
With a job in the formal sector comes mandatory social security and a health insurance package that works at certain hospitals. There are over 300 different obras sociales (from the subway workers union to the lawyers union) and the quantity of care guaranteed to a patient often depends on the wealth of their union. Most Argentineans fall into this category.
3.) Private System (For a Wealthy Minority)
The care offered in the Private System isn't necessarily better. It's more expensive and specialized. There are no waits and there's greater trust in the system, but the cost of a single visit is $80USD. A pretty steep price to pay when your Obras Sociales could cover it.
Within these three systems people are constantly shifting. During the economic crisis of the 2000s, millions of Argentineans lost their jobs (48-60% of the population was unemployed!) and with it their Obras Sociales. They went to the Public System overburdening the healthcare that could be provided. Now that Argentina has become more economically stable, things have shifted back into place; but there's always the fear that any one of these systems could get overburdened depending on the economic prospects of the country.
In Argentina there is often prejudice against non-MD medical professionals and general practitioners. Just like the U.S., there is more money and prestige in becoming a specialized doctor at a Private Clinic. This forces a skewed workforce with lots of specialized professionals and few general attendants.
That means that there are 4 Doctors for every 1 Nurse!
(It really should be the opposite way around)
Government Social Programs
Asignacion Universal por Hijo: When children registered in school (240Pesos per child per month for food, transportation, clothing, etc.)
Plan NACER: Maternal and Child Health Insurance Program for Poor Pregnant Women and Children Up to 6-Years Old (Insurance Provided)
REMEDIAR Program: Essential Drugs to Population (86% of Recipients have No Coverage; 94% of Recipients are Below the Poverty Line)
- Lack of Overlap Between the 3 Systems
- No Regulation of the Private Sector
- Under-financed Public Sector
- Inequality between the Public/Private Technology and Facilities
- Excess of Specialists, Beds, and Technology in some Areas
- Lack of Primary Care Physicians and Nurses in Urban and Rural Areas
- Quality of Healthcare is often vulnerable to Unions and Provincial Claudillos
- Coverage Rate of Social Security is lower than 40 Years Ago!