By Veronica Vargas
At this unprecedented COVID moment, health has been revealed as one of our most precious possessions and protecting it has become imperative. The right to health was articulated by the WHO in the Declaration of Alma-Ata of 1978. The upcoming constitutional debate in Chile is an opportunity to re-examine this concept.
The Chilean constitution specifies the right to “free and egalitarian access” to health care. Simultaneously, the constitution guarantees that “each person has the right to choose the health system they wish to join, either public or private.”
These provisions have championed a prospering private health sector, with corporate clinics and a private insurance system that represents almost half of total health spending.
However, this private sector serves less than 20 percent of the population. Nearly 80 percent of the population utilizes public sector insurance. Although the public sector has been expanding its coverage of health services, and health indicators for those with public insurance have been improving, the public sector is chronically underfunded. Public sector health care spending represents only 4% of the GDP.