Health financing for universal coverage

Health sector reforms in Argentina and the performance of the health financing system

Health Policy, Volume 88, Issue 1

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Authors:
Cavagnero E

Publication details

Number of pages: 88-99
Publication date: Oct 2008
Languages: English

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Overview

In Argentina, health sector reforms put particular emphasis on decentralization and self-management of the tax-funded health sector, and the restructuring of the social health insurance during the 1990s. Unlike other countries in the region, there was no comprehensive plan to reform and unify the sector. In order to assess the effects of the reforms on the performance of the health financing system, this study looks at impacts on the three inter-related functions of revenue collection, pooling, and purchasing/provision of health services.

Data from various sources are used to illustrate the findings. It was found that the introduction of cost recovery by self-managed hospitals increased their budgets only marginally and competition among social health insurance funds did not reduce fragmentation as expected. Although reforming the Solidarity Redistribution Fund and implementing a single basic package for the insured was an important step towards equity and transparency, the extent of risk pooling is still very limited.

This study also provides recommendations regarding strengthening reimbursement mechanisms for public hospitals, and regulating the private sector as approaches to improving the fairness of the health financing system and protecting people from financial hardship as a result of illness.