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An overview of Peru's Healthcare System

The Peruvian healthcare system is a work in progress....

In 2018, more than 20% of Peru’s population lived below the poverty line– that translates to six million people.

Many Peruvians do not receive or have access to adequate public healthcare. But unlike some countries, Peru does offer some degree of public healthcare. It is important to understand when visiting or moving to Peru what types of public and private healthcare are available to you. Below is a brief overview of the five different types of healthcare in Peru.

There are five different types of healthcare that are available to Peruvian citizens. They are called the Ministry of Health (SIS), EsSalud, Armed Forces (FFAA), National Police (PNP) and the private sector. Most of the population, around 60% uses SIS, 30% of the population uses EsSalud and the remaining 10% use FFAA, PNP or the private sector. SIS is Peru’s main public healthcare system , which is delivered by the Ministry of Health and is aimed towards providing healthcare for lower income communities, especially where they have no health insurance. SIS is mainly for pregnant women and men in extreme poverty and can be considered unreliable. It is considered unreliable because it has very long waiting times and often cannot treat everyone in time.

EsSalud is compulsory for workers, both in the public and private sectors, for retirees and their children. EsSalud was formed after studying social security programs in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay and was formed in 1920 to protect union workers. It is financed by employers and is equal to about 9% of the workers wage. The private sector is usually for wealthy Peruvians and is considered much more reliable. Unfortunately the majority of Peruvian workers cannot afford this luxury. If you are not employed by a Peruvian company and do not want SIS, you can choose to pay for your own private insurance plan.

One of the main criticisms of the Peruvian healthcare system is the lack of coordination between all the different healthcare providers. They all seem to be focusing their attention and resources on the same areas, which causes many communities to not have enough doctors and medical supplies. For example, the capital city, Lima accounts for more than 23 % of Peru’s hospitals. If they all decided together that they would focus on different areas in Peru and make sure that all of the healthcare resources are fairly distributed across the country, then many more citizens would have access to better healthcare.

Which healthcare provider is the best to use? It depends on your situation. If you are a tourist or are planning on living in Peru for a short time, international insurance is a good option. If you can afford it, private healthcare is the most reliable healthcare, the hospitals are better stocked and there are no long waits, allowing you to see your doctor immediately - if necessary. However if you cannot afford private healthcare ask your employer about EsSalud and the healthcare benefits that they provide you.

Remember if you are working for a Peruvian company they are obligated to provide you and your family with EsSalud, which is definitely better than SIS.

Article Credit: Diya Mehta

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