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Near-universal Mexican Healthcare Coverage Results From Science-informed Changes 732

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the dismemberment-by-u.s.-backed-drug-cartels-not-covered dept.
ananyo writes about improvement to Mexico's healthcare system. From the article: "A revamp of Mexico's beleaguered health-care system is proving to be a runaway success and offers a model for other nations seeking to reform their own systems, according to a review published this week in The Lancet (abstract). The key to the scheme's success is the way in which it has modified its reforms in response to scientific assessments of their effectiveness, the authors say. Launched in a law in 2003, the Mexican scheme was designed to sort out widespread inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the country's health-care system. Some 50 million Mexicans — nearly half the country's population — who previously were not covered by health insurance are now enrolled, leading the scheme's architects to claim that the country has near-universal health-care coverage. As well as the increased coverage, the scheme has seen the number of conditions treated under Mexican public health insurance nearly quintuple. Admittedly, the former health minister Julio Frenk, now dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, is a co-author on the paper."
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Near-universal Mexican Healthcare Coverage Results From Science-informed Changes

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  • Here I come. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zippo01 (688802) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:12AM (#41065609)
    So will I have to go to Mexico for my low price drugs now? Sorry Canada
    • Re:Here I come. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:16AM (#41065619)

      So will I have to go to Mexico for my low price drugs now? Sorry Canada

      No. This mean that the United States are the new Mexico. Enjoy your third-world country while it last, each year there are less and less of them.

    • by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:25AM (#41065641) Homepage

      I don't know about you, but that's already where *I* go. Avoid that nasty border tariff. Plus, they aren't that funky blue color down there, like they are around Albuquerque.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, I'm here in Edmonton, Canada and I just recently got back from visiting a dentist in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Sure glad I went! Gotta do your research though!

      Alberta dentist's have raised their prices in many cases to more than triple what they were 6 years ago. I even would've saved money by going to the States!

      I feel bad for families who can't fly to Mexico on short notice... or me if I get stuck timewise next incident.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @07:42AM (#41066657)

      From National Geographic Magazine:

      http://blogs.ngm.com/.a/6a00e0098226918833012876a6070f970c-800wi

      Guess who gets the least bang for their buck in Healthcare?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:18AM (#41065625)

    Admittedly, the former health minister Julio Frenk, now dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, is a co-author on the paper."

    Will there be any death panels?

  • by Zuriel (1760072) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:25AM (#41065647)

    Translation: "We did some things we thought would work, and then later we stopped doing the things that weren't working and did more of the things that were."

    In an ideal world, governments behaving sensibly wouldn't make headlines.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @07:13AM (#41066507) Homepage

      Translation: "We did some things we thought would work, and then later we stopped doing the things that weren't working and did more of the things that were." In an ideal world, governments behaving sensibly wouldn't make headlines.

      You'd be surprised to know how much of the real world operates on things they believe to work rather than having any proof that it's effective. For example I remember one person telling me about this new program they created to work with young criminals. He had suggested they give it to 50% of them, using the other as a control group. That was shot down in flames, of course this worked and no juvenile should go without such a program from now on. Did it work? Is this well spent money or a waste of resources? Who the fuck knows, since society changes so you can't say shit comparing old statistics to new statistics. The irony was they said this was "too important" to not provide help, while health care that deal with real life and death situations would never use medication they had no clue if worked or not.

      It's a little better on the private side but there's a helluva lot of things that are done on pure belief, you may have had some very persuasive business cases and PowerPoint presentations at the start of the project but very rarely is it properly followed up at the end of the project if the goals were actually achieved - if they were even properly defined, quantifiable and measurable to begin with. Of course sometimes projects go wrong for reasons that were impossible to predict when the project was started, but most often not. Most companies just want to bury the failed project and not try deconstructing why they started a project with such flawed plans, requirements and goals. Usually because it'll reflect poorly on some executive who authorized it.

  • by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:31AM (#41065659) Homepage

    . . . about a year and a half ago, and while it's not all bad [nytimes.com], it's not quite as glowing as TFA.

    “You have people signed up on paper, but there are no doctors, no medicine, no hospital beds,” said Miguel Pulido, the executive director of Fundar, a Mexican watchdog group that has studied the poor southern states of Guerrero and Chiapas.

    The result is that how Mexicans are treated is very much a function of where they live. Lucila Rivera Díaz, 36, comes from one of the poorest regions in Guerrero. She said doctors there told her to take her mother, who they suspected had liver cancer, for tests in the neighboring state of Morelos.

    Sounds like the problems the opponents to universal health care in the States are always worried about.

    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:39AM (#41065685)

      Sounds like the problems the opponents to universal health care in the States are always worried about.

      The problem of making health care cheaper so there isn't so much profit in it?

      told her to take her mother, who they suspected had liver cancer, for tests in the neighboring state of Morelos.

      Given the choice of travelling for a few hours to have (free) tests, or the American alternative of selling your house to pay for them, I wonder which is the worst?

      Hey, you forgot to call; it "Obamacare". Don't worry, I'm sure that will be in half the posts anyway.

    • by ananyo (2519492)

      Check out how much the Mexicans spend on healthcare at the moment, compare it to the US, compensate for numbers. Then despair American slashdotters.
      Of-course there's still problems - but as the NYT piece says: "A decade ago, half of all Mexicans had no health insurance at all." ie in many cases, they were not able to afford treatment.
      Critics sometimes seem to overlook that a public healthcare system does not mean that people who wish to get treatment privately cannot do so...

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Of-course there's still problems - but as the NYT piece says: "A decade ago, half of all Mexicans had no health insurance at all." ie in many cases, they were not able to afford treatment.

        Right, and now they can afford it, but there's no treatment to get, which is what is fast-approaching here in the states. Last time I had health insurance there was literally no one in my county on that insurer (first blue cross, then blue shield) accepting new patients. Why will this be any different?

    • by jrumney (197329)

      The result is that how Mexicans are treated is very much a function of where they live. Lucila Rivera Díaz, 36, comes from one of the poorest regions in Guerrero. She said doctors there told her to take her mother, who they suspected had liver cancer, for tests in the neighboring state of Morelos.

      Sounds like the problems the opponents to universal health care in the States are always worried about.

      So these opponents of universal health care have an alternate system where people from the poorest area

    • by funkylovemonkey (1866246) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @05:54AM (#41066053)
      I suppose it's easy to believe this doesn't happen in the US if you've lived somewhere urban your whole life. But out here in rural America, it's not uncommon to have to travel two or three hours to get treatment. There's a local clinic in the town that I live in, but if you need anything more complicated than having a broken bone set or some penicillin, you're going to have to travel to the nearest town an hour and a half away. If you have something serious like cancer then it might be time to look into relocating. Rural areas always have a more difficult time getting to medical care, especially with a country as spread out as the United States. It has nothing to do with universal health care or our privatized system and wouldn't necessarily become better or worse if we changed.
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @06:34AM (#41066275)

      Sounds like the problems the opponents to universal health care in the States are always worried about.

      No, the only problem that the opponents of universal health care in the USA are always worried about is that it wouldn't let the rich get richer by letting you die.

  • Shocking (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:31AM (#41065661)

    You mean, using someone who actually understands the field he's working in instead of a politician with little or no qualifications, actually gives better results? OMFG this is revolutionary!

  • by Balthisar (649688) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:39AM (#41065683) Homepage

    Yes, the claim that Mexico has near universal coverage is accurate, but Mexico's health care is not a US or Canadian (-provincial) style. This Wikipedia article is pretty accurate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Mexico [wikipedia.org] about how it works.

    Ex-President Fox's Seguro Popular is mostly what the article talks about, and that's what (properly) gives Mexico the right to say that it has nearly 100% coverage. And it's a good program -- my mother-in-law's maid's kid received a kidney transplant under the program.

    It's important to distinguish, though, that you're not forced into this system. You can still buy private insurance, or pay cash. (Last time I had to go to a hospital in Mexico, they simply wanted my credit card).

    tl;dr: the Mexican government hasn't taken away choice.

    • by Alkonaut (604183) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:50AM (#41065735)
      Would people really feel "forced" if there was a tax financed single payer system financed by taxes? Does someone feel "forced" to pay for police and other services with taxes? Would anyone rather have a private company to call in case of fire, than pay tax money for that service? Am I making a weird extrapolation between police and healthcare?
      • Does someone feel "forced" to pay for police and other services with taxes?

        Yes, many libertarians.

        Would anyone rather have a private company to call in case of fire, than pay tax money for that service?

        Yes, many libertarians.

        Am I making a weird extrapolation between police and healthcare?

        Yes, many people don't see the connection between public safety and public health. And most of them are libertarians.

        • Define "many". I'm not an American, but the only place I ever come across libertarians is Slashdot.
          Over here in Europe, the Libertarian movement is so small it goes completely unnoticed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gordonjcp (186804)

      It's the same in any country with socialised healthcare though - if there are private facilities available, there's nothing to stop you paying to use them.

      Here in the UK, you can use the NHS, or if you'd prefer to have dirty hospitals, bad food, the bare minimum of treatment and staff who cannot speak English and a view over the executive staff car park full of new Jaguars and Mercs, you could go private.

      Making a profit is fundamentally incompatible with good healthcare. Something has to give.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @05:07AM (#41065827) Homepage

    I don't know why people don't get it. The "free market" people out there love to say "government shouldn't mess with it" and usually, I agree except when government has no choice.

    Any time there is an unlimited supply, the government needs to help. Such cases include matters like "copyright" and "patent protection." The supply is unlimited and therefore must be enforced by government to use other means to get people to pay for something with an unlimited supply.

    Any time there is an unlimited demandm the government needs to help. Such cases include matters like healthcare, water and electrical service. People need what they need and it has little to do with market conditions. Often is is "use or die." Government needs to ensure that needs of the people are met before suppliers are allowed to exploit the need to gain unlimited profits.

    It's interesting and amusing to me that many such free market proponents are great with government enforced or assisted items like copyright but not with health and power regulation. "Only when it serves their interests." So it's selfish humanity as usual... and in the end, that's why we have law in the first place -- to help us to act against our own nature.

  • And the US has ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @05:42AM (#41065987) Homepage Journal
    ... nothing. President Lawnchair signed the massive bailout for the health insurance companies (which was conveniently disguised as "health care reform") which ultimately left us with the same broken system, but with people now forced to buy into it. We still have no standard of care, and nothing that actually resembled universal coverage.

    And now to further accentuate how ridiculous that is, the Mexican government just beat us to health care reform as well. A significant portion of their country is embattled in violent conflict in the drug war, yet they can pass health care reform. Up here, we can't pass it because of a collection of idiots who are afraid of (their own lack of understanding of) "socialism".

    Yeah, go ahead. Mod me down. I can take it. At least I said my piece.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @06:21AM (#41066191) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like a better deal for them there than here.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:10AM (#41066933) Homepage

    Leaving the United States as the largest third world country without universal health care.

    We're getting beat by Mexico while Congress is fighting over funding for Planned Parenthood by people who want to turn Medicare into a discount coupon program.

  • These neoliberal politicians seem to live in an entirely different country, and Frenk is no exception; no wonder he's now run as far away from Mexico as possible and is now teaching elsewhere, standing, no doubt, on his alleged achievements while being the secretary of public health in Mexico.

    As any mexican will tell you, his boasting is far from the truth; while he may have instituted a program that supposedly provides coverage for people not otherwise under any sort of health care plan (i.e. those who are not, as workers, covered by the mexican institute of social security (IMSS), or as government workers, covered by ISSSTE), he did so without increasing health spending significantly (from 2003 to 2005 it only increased 0.2 percent and it has remained constant ever since: http://corta.me/7mz [corta.me]). So how can you cover 50 million more people without increasing spending? very poorly, that's how. Understaffed and underequipped hospitals, lack of medication, soul-sucking bureaucracy and hoops to jump through, I don't think that's anything to boast about; as befits his neoliberal lineage, Frenk instituted these policies for the macroeconomic "bottom line".

    IMSS is supposed to provide coverage for workers and their families. However this entails people working on a stable, formally constituted company which has the obligation to cover fees for employee coverage. It's not a privilege, it's a right that companies must provide to their employees. However, since Mexico has had near zero growth in the past two decades or so (and more so since 2000, when the disastrous, conservative PAN party arrived in power), job creation has stagnated, and even receded in some cases. Millions of people have to resort to the "informal economy", since there's no company through which they can have access to IMSS, this popular insurance thing was created to give some semblance of health care coverage to the 50 million poor and underemployed in Mexico. But make no mistake; this is not the glowing achievement that Frenk would have the world believe. It's really the government hastily trying to fulfill, in a half-assed way, their constitutionally mandated obligation for health care (Mexican Constitution, 4th Article). This has been there since 1983, so actually Frenk's implementation means a 20-year lag for the government to fulfill its obligations.

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