Seguro Popular, Mexico’s public health program, will be replaced with a new centralized system, said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
“What they call Seguro Popular is neither safe nor popular,” said the president.
He is creating a new agency, with a name that translates to the Health Institute for Wellbeing.
Lopez said that during the previous administration’s six years in office, the government spent 90 billion pesos on medicines that never reached public health centers.
Before the creation of Seguro Popular in 2003, only half of the Mexican population had health insurance, largely through their employer, according to the World Bank. Self-employed, underemployed and unemployed citizens turned to public providers with a co-pay, or they paid for private care.
Secretary of Health Jorge Alcocer Varela confirmed the shortage of medicines in hospitals and health centers.
AMLO also announced that the last administration left 80 unfinished hospitals throughout the country.
“They built hospitals that never finished and that’s how they left them, but that’s over, we’re going to bring order, but I ask for your patience,” AMLO said.
Seguro Popular is free, or deeply discounted, depending on the patient’s qualifications. While not really insurance, Seguro Popular is a socialized medical care program for legal residents of Mexico; citizens and those with residence visas.
In March, the president announced that he would launch a public tender for medical purchases. He said that his predecessor dealt with companies he personally favored.
The chairman of the Budget Committee, Alfonso Ramírez Cuéllar, called for an investigation into corruption between the Peña Nieto administration and possibly corrupt pharmaceutical companies.
Lopez Obrador said the new Instituto de Salud para el Bienestar will incorporate all of Mexico’s states within two years.
Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz and Tabasco are the first states to transfer their public health system to federal control.
The president has promised to create a universal, free health care system such as those in Canada and Europe.