The president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, presented a public health reform on Sunday that makes it a universal health insurance with a minimum coverage of 80% for the 14.5 million Chileans who are beneficiaries of this system.
With this initiative, the Executive intends to meet one of the main demands that citizens have been claiming for eleven weeks in protests against social inequality, which have left at least 24 dead.
“It is a relief in the out-of-pocket expenses of Chileans, because the Universal Health Plan will have a minimum coverage of 80% and we will boost the reduction in the price of medicines,” Piñera said in an appearance at the Palacio de La Moneda, headquarters of the government.
In that sense, the president explained that, in addition to increasing health coverage in public health, where users have to pay a percentage of the cost of care, waiting times will also be reduced.
Until now there were patients who had to wait up to 4 years to be treated for their pathologies or to schedule a surgical intervention.
With this project, the Government intends to establish a maximum period of attention for each type of benefit, although they did not indicate how much it will be.
Another of the serious problems of the health system is the expense that it entails for the patients, who are indebted to be able to face the costs of treating their illnesses in the attendance to consultations or purchases of medicines.
“It will ease the pocket of families with the creation of a Drug Insurance that will reduce the price of more prescribed remedies by up to 60%,” said Piñera.
“The high price of medicines that for many ends up being a true ordeal, especially for the chronically ill, for older adults who allocate a very important part of their income to buy medicines,” he added.
Public health in Chile is mainly subsidized by the National Health Fund (Fonasa), which is responsible for a percentage of the cost of care and the rest must be paid out of the patient’s pocket.
With the change proposed by the Government on Friday, Fonasa would go from being a simple payer to becoming a public health network that sets minimum standards and concrete and global criteria for universal care throughout the country for all members.
Fonasa is financed with the 7% tax that each worker contributes monthly on their payroll, although the law allows deciding whether that percentage is used in public health or is invested in private health as a method of payment of personal insurance.