The democratization of health in Mexico: financial innovations for universal coverage
Julio Frenk, Octavio Gómez-Dantés & Felicia Marie Knaul
In 2003, the Mexican Congress approved a reform establishing the Sistema de Protección Social en Salud [System of Social Protection in Health], whereby public funding for health is being increased by one percent of the 2003 gross domestic product over seven years to guarantee universal health insurance. Poor families that had been excluded from traditional social security can now enrol in a new public insurance scheme known as Seguro Popular [People’s Insurance], which assures legislated access to a comprehensive set of health-care entitlements. This paper describes the financial innovations behind the expansion of health-care coverage in Mexico to everyone and their effects. Evidence shows improvements in mobilization of additional public resources; availability of health infrastructure and drugs; service utilization; effective coverage; and financial protection. Future challenges are discussed, among them the need for additional public funding to extend access to costly interventions for non-communicable diseases not yet covered by the new insurance scheme, and to improve the technical quality of care and the responsiveness of the health system. Eventually, the progress achieved so far will have to be reflected in health outcomes, which will continue to be evaluated so that Mexico can meet the ultimate criterion of reform success: better health through equity, quality and fair financing.