Health Systems: A Brief Comparison

So While the Brazilian Health system has figured out a way to treat everyone with HIV/Aids free of charge, the U.S. is back to square one of our national healthcare debate.  When it comes to health, Brazil, a country that is slighty smaller than the U.S. in terms of surface area and has experienced democratic ruling for less than 50 years, is all about the rights of the people. Rich or poor, healthy or sick, young or old. 

Meanwhile in the U.S., a country rich with a history of freedoms fought, we´re avoiding a question that has yet to be answered concerning health; and I envision this reform game we are in the midst of will continue until it is answered.  Do people have the right to health or is it a privilege for those who can afford it?

Brazil decided. Their economy is booming and every individual has the right to treatment without fear of bankruptcy-something we still aspire to in the U.S. Actually in Brazil, every individual has the right to a sex change operation as well as any other surgery as long as the government  is convinced the human right of that individual is not being met-and the federal government pays for it all. I´m not proposing our U.S. federal government pay for sex change operations or forms of plastic surgery that are solely for cosmetic purposes.  But I am proposing we engage in the Brazilian mentality that health is a right every individual deserves.

Instead we´re here.  In a political situation all too familiar and all too similar to that of a dog chasing his tail.  We need to reform our system, that´s a given.  But maybe we need to take a step back from this political debate on the specifics of whether our new system should cover abortions and first decide as a nation whether we believe health is a right or a privilege-and build a system that efficiently addresses the outcome of this right or privilege question.



Filed under public health

3 responses to “Health Systems: A Brief Comparison

  1. Brit

    One of the big criticisms of universal health care I have heard, (that, if true matters to me) is that quality of care would go down. Could you speak on the quality of care you are finding in the healthcare service provided by the Brazilian government? I am curious.

    I am also wondering what your thoughts are on the Brazilian culture and job prestige in healthcare. Doctors are the #1 prestigious vocation in the US (maybe in all of NA). Is that type of thinking present in Brazilian culture? Do you think it affects how we are able to meet the same challenge in the US? The idolatry of the MD for many people in the US seems like it should be accounted for if we are going to try to change anything about the healthcare system in USA.

    • Thanks for your inquiry Brit. I haven’t been able to visit the hospitals in Brazil yet, this should happen sometime this week and I’m positive I will have a better understanding afterwards.

      The general sentiment of all of the Brazilians I’ve talked to-from rich to poor, doctors to students- is that the quality is the same in the Brazilian system whether you go to the Public (which the government pays for completely) or the Private (where people who can afford it buy insurance and when they get sick, are treated in the private hospitals) the treatment is the exact same. It’s just the wait and the quality of the the hospitals and equipment that differs. Actually for surgeries and any sort of trauma, people are sent to the public hospital because the doctors are better trained for those procedures.

  2. claire

    I watched your report on the healthcare in Brazil.. are you kidding? people die on the line, waiting to be seen. Also, the doctors in Brazil, are doctors can practice at 21 or 22 years old. They dont have malpractice, or ny kind of reproach. Even the people who can afford the best doctors, are misdiagnosed, killed, and no one can do anything about it. For most of the poor, medical care is very precarious… if they can get any.. and for most of the poor it is not free

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