Progress, challenges in Chilean health system

While Chile has had a publicly funded national health system since the 1950s, private insurance was introduced in the 1980s—and, since then, the mix of public and private insurance has led to mixed results, according to a January 7, 2016 article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Authors Thomas Bossert, senior lecturer on health policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Thomas Leisewitz, MPH ’05, an instructor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, offered a historical perspective of innovation and change in the Chilean health system. Chile’s health care successes have included improved communicable disease rates, decreases in the infant mortality rate, and declines in malnutrition among children under age 6. But there have also been difficulties—such as underinvestment and poor management in the public system, rising costs in the private system, and rising rates of chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Given that only one in four Chileans reported being satisfied with the health system as of 2014, “the debate is ongoing” as to how best to reform the system, the authors wrote.

Read the NEJM article: Innovation and Change in the Chilean Health System