More people from higher income brackets have been signing up for Chile’s public health care system, according to data released by the government.
Chile’s public health care system – the National Health Fund, or FONASA - has seen steady growth over the last decade and a half. In 1993 it covered roughly 8.5 million people, or 60.9 percent of the population, while in 2008 it covered almost 12.25 million, or 72.7 percent of the population.
The number of FONASA members earning above CH$900,000 (US$1,633) per month has jumped sharply, from as low as 22,021 in June 2004 to as high as 91,626 in June 2008, though that number dipped to 60,720 in December 2008.
Similarly, FONASA members making over CH$600,000 (US$1,089) per month, grew from 136,740 to 231,831 between 2006 and 2008, a nearly 70 percent increase.
“When we’ve done focus groups to understand the behavior of our members and talked with young professionals, the most common thing we hear is that they are in FONASA because they feel the resources will be well spent, if not on them, then on others that need it,” said Hernán Monasterio, director of FONASA.
The range of coverage provided by the public health care system has expanded sharply under presidents Ricardo Lagos and Michelle Bachelet. FONASA is financed by a 7 percent health care tax deducted from its members’ paychecks and now enjoys a budget of over CH$2.5 trillion (US$4.58 billion). FONASA has been chipping away at the market share of private health care insurers, known collectively as Isapres.
The number of people with private insurance has fallen since its 1997 peak of 3.88 million, or 26.1 percent of the population. Private health care providers covered 2.78 million in 2008, or 16.5 percent of the population. The percentage of the population without coverage from either the Isapres or FONASA, which includes people in the armed forces and the uninsured, has also fallen from a 2003 high of 16.9 percent to 10.8 percent in 2008.
SOURCES: FONASA, LA TERCERA
By Daniel Zarchy ( firstname.lastname@example.org)