MAY 24, 2011 2:03PM

Healthcare: Pakistan is building what the US is destroying!

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I saw this very interesting segment on last night’s edition of the PBS Newshour. This segment discusses how the Pakistani Government has recently implemented a public health insurance system (or plan) for low-income families making less than 20,000 rupees per month (~$235 US), uninsured contract workers, factory workers and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) employees and their families.

This newly implemented insurance system has characteristics that are very similar to Medicaid or Medicare. For about $2.50 US a month, people get access to medical care and regular health check-ups for infectious diseases among others. As discussed in the segment, despite some important limitations, the plan has become very popular among the targeted population. So far, the experience has been extremely positive.

You can see the 8-minute segment here:

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

As I previously discussed about public medical insurances, the primary goal of the newly implemented system in Pakistan is to reduce direct (i.e., poverty, etc.) and indirect (i.e., preventable deaths, etc.) societal costs.

The PBS segment can be summarized this way:

Pakistan is building a health care system that Paul Ryan* is trying to destroy over here.

I’ll leave the last words to Dr. Shershan Syed from the Pakistan Medical Association:

Saima Mohsin, Journalist: So, is private health care the way forward for Pakistan?

Dr. Shershan Syed: No. Private health care is never a way forward. No. I will say again, primary health care, basic health care and emergency health care is the right of every citizen of Pakistan, free of cost. And the private sector cannot provide it. It is the government. I mean, two things in the world, education, basic education and the basic health care, it's not private business. It's serious business. And it should be done by the government.

*See my piece here.


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Very interesting and illuminating in that Pakistan can do what most Americans wish were done here. They get healthcare for rupees, we get rupeed upon, and have to pay for the drenching anyway, in one form or another.

I'll endorse what Syed said, but would still allow for private competition, wherever it *could* compete.
Hey Paul,

It is very interesting indeed. Maybe we should all move there... ;-)

From what I understood in the segment, elements of the health care system are similar to the ones here and in Canada: 70% of the medical services are provided by the private sector. Thus, the patient can still select which medical doctor he or she wants to see, and the physician bills the government for the visit.

This is how it works in Canada. You can select any primary physician you want. Physicians up north work for you and not for the government. Instead of billing numerous insurance companies, clinics and medical offices bill one insurance company (i.e., the provincial government).
Feeling a little more admiration for Pakistan, which had always seemed like a hot mess.

As you know, it's a baffling frustrating thing for me to contemplate the American attitude towards "socialistic" health care.
Myriad: I agree. Given what's going there, I find it very surprising that they still find the time and energy to work on providing adequate health care to its citizens. Thanks for commenting.