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Public Healthcare in Brazil- Sistema Único de Saúde

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So all of my research on babies has of course made me more aware of the healthcare system in Brasil.  A lot of which I am told was the “inspiration” for Obamacare.

From various stats between 20-25% of Brasilians don’t use the public healthcare system, the lack of private healthcare is that rampant.  From WHO, it seems that pre-1970 the lack of healthcare was abysmal.  Which of course makes sense when you have a country as large as Brasil, with the problems of under-education, and large illegal or blue collar/self employed work force (farmers…etc).   So while the Brasilian people are taxed heavily, I can see how something like this really makes sense for this country.  The life expectancy of a Brasilian is 73.5… compared to back before they had this large scale healthcare… and it was like 45 years old. So that’s obviously a big difference. Of course economic growth and wealth I’m sure have helped increase that too.  Also, as the wealth in Brasil increases more and more individuals are supplementing their free healthcare with private healthcare too, because well the public system IS the public system.

The system is a mix of Federal and State funding.  So Sao Paulo public healthcare is great when you compare it to say Piaui (where my nanny is from), as their state isn’t as rich, so things aren’t as good.  And of course, it’s Brasil, so there is of course the usual wasteful money dealings that go on …

A recent survey of Brasilian health care published in the Lancet, an international journal, argued that SUS gets poor value for the money it spends on drugs, because too much goes on complying with court orders granted to patients who use the constitution’s lofty promises to demand expensive treatments not automatically covered by the system. And too much of the budget still goes to hospitals rather than the Family Health Programme, says Michele Gragnolati of the World Bank.

From the Economist, it seems that not everything is free with the healthcare (which it shouldn’t be), but the Brasilian population is pushing for even more coverage. Ironic, as I feel there are bigger issues that needed to be addressed before adding to the issues.

An audit carried out in 1997 by the Ministry of Health showed that at least an amount equal to US$ 557 million (R$ 600 million) belonging to the federal health budget goes missing every year. World Health Organization

Yeah corruption and waste… go figure the Brasilian system has issues with corruption.  In fact, the health system here in Brasil is so bad, that the private insurance systems (other than the cost of those hotel room suites for maternity), have been able to charge ridiculously high prices.

In São Paulo, for instance, the best hospitals charge fees that are sometimes higher than those charged by well-known hospitals in the United States. Some health insurances are even offering Brasilian patients the option of receiving health care in the United States since, in certain cases, the costs of transportation and treatment in the United States are lower than getting the same treatment in São Paulo.

To be fair as an American, I fully admit the US system has its issues.  We spend more than any other country, not everyone is covered, and we are SUPER SUPER inefficient.  Which is yet another reason we shouldn’t have jumped right into universal healthcare straightaway. BUT we are still set up better than Brasil to handle the issue, as at least we definitely have the infrastructure in place.

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About scrubgrub

I'm an American in Sao Paulo, with a husband who works for an international company, a little boy to keep me company, and a whole lot of opinions on life in Brazil.

7 responses »

  1. Population covered by SUS is 145 million people, 75,9%. Covered by private operators is 46 million people. Source: Demografia Médica no Brasil, published by the Federal Medicine Council (CFM) and the São Paulo State Medicine Council (Cremesp) in November 30, 2011. Reliable Brazilian stats can be found at ibge.gov.br. See http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/noticia/2011-11-30/paciente-do-sus-tem-disposicao-quatro-vezes-menos-medicos-que-usuarios-da-rede-privada

    Reply
    • thanks.. of course the Brasilian gov would have them… I just have such a hard time trying to navigate around in Brasilian. So thanks!

      Reply
  2. haha! my husband catches me on that ALL the time. I have no idea why I feel a need to differentiate Portuguese from Brasilian Portuguese, perhaps because my brother speaks Portugal Portuguese… or perhaps because I’m an idiot :)

    Reply
    • Andrew Francis

      Hey, as long as you say it in American, that’s fine :). To be fair, I think the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese are greater than between American and British English, even though they are mutually understandable and (now) share a common orthography. Have you tried speaking or writing to your brother in Portuguese? That would be amusing…

      Reply

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