Sunday, May 10, 2009

Universal (But Unequal) Healthcare in Brazil

I recently traveled to Brazil for a medical conference, and according to the surgeons and businesspeople with whom I spoke during the trip, healthcare coverage is something that is available to every Brazilian via the public hospital system. However, that doesn’t mean that all people receive equal healthcare treatment. Of Brazil’s approximately 200 million residents, perhaps 20% of them, or 40 million, have private insurance that offers reasonable coverage. Among the ~40 million insured by the private sector, plans vary widely in what is covered. There’s definitely a “bargain” option that covers less, while premium offerings can provide state of the art care at top facilities such as Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo, which I’m told is on par with other top hospitals in the world. Out of a sense of duty to serve mainstream Brazilians, as well as out of a desire to feel challenged, most surgeons in Brazil work at both a private and a public hospital.

There is much talk about universal healthcare in the United States these days. I am by no means trying to hold up Brazil as the model for healthcare in the US. But as a country with a per capita GDP of $10,300 vs. the United States’ $48,000, Brazil shows that some degree of universal healthcare can be offered to all citizens, even of relatively poor countries. In per capita GDP terms, Brazil ranks 103 out of 238 countries in the world.

1 comment:

NEED Magazine said...

Keep up the great work = )

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