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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Copenhagen Consensus Latin America: Health

Assessment Paper

By Philip Musgrove

The working paper used by the Expert Panel is available for download here, the finalized paper has been published in the Latin American Development Priorities: Cost and Benefits book by Cambridge University Press. 

Short Summary

The crucial solution to the health challenges of Latin America and the Caribbean is to extend insurance coverage to the whole population where that is not already the case, with a benefit package that includes catastrophic care and allows considerable choice of provider, and with financing that implies affordable premiums for some beneficiaries and complete subsidy for others, on the basis of income rather than any demographic characteristic.

A reform of that sort, of whatever specific model, does not guarantee higher quality or efficiency in the delivery of health care, but it probably facilitates simultaneous reforms pursuing those ends.  It most definitely will improve access, particularly by removing financial barriers—and to a lesser extent, also physical barriers of time and distance.  Including a conditional cash transfer program to boost demand for care among the poor may complement the general extension of coverage, particularly for the preventive services for which such programs are best suited and for which the income gradient in utilization is steepest.