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Mexico Nears Universal Health Care Goal

By: Talea Miller

Source: www.pbs.org

Mexico's government insurance program covers all services for young children. Photo by Mexico Ministry of Health.

As the United States continues to debate the legality of President Obama's healthcare law, south of the border Mexico is preparing to celebrate a healthcare milestone of its own: universal coverage.

Ten years ago, half of Mexico's population had no health insurance. Then the congress passed a law guaranteeing access to care, and a government insurance program called Seguro Popular was born.

Mexico's newly appointed health minister, Salomón Chertorivski, used to run the Seguro Popular program and spoke with the NewsHour in a phone interview about the progress and challenges ahead (edited for length):

Mexico has been working towards universal health care coverage for years, where does the program stand?

Health Minister Salomón Chertorivski: In 2000, half of the population in Mexico did have a financial mechanism for health, but that was because of their labor status. If you had a formal or salaried job you had access to social security and social security gave you access to medical attention, financing your medical attention.

But the other half of the population did not. In 2004, the Seguro Popular, which literally means popular insurance was created ... today we already have more than 50 million people registered with Seguro Popular and together with those with social security, we are reaching in December universal coverage: that is all Mexicans are going to have a financial mechanism for their health.



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