OPINION: For-profit health care: Eliminate, tolerate or stimulate?
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Search online for the role of for-profit organizations in health care and you’ll find millions of results, including an abundance of studies, conferences and discussions among providers, advocates and various other actors. It’s an important debate about a complex issue — one that remains largely unresolved in countries around the globe.
Where does that leave a policymaker in the developing world, where access to quality health products and services at affordable prices is far from universal, and where public resources and capacities are limited? Policy choices range from eliminating the involvement of the private sector in health care to stimulating it as a contributor to universal coverage.
The “eliminate” option should quickly be ruled out. Even at a strategic or philosophic level, the fact is that almost no country has a pure public sector model; per World Bank data, even in Cuba, private expenditure represents 4 percent of the total spending on health, compared to a worldwide average of 40 percent and a contribution as high as 70-80 percent in some poorer countries.