Las múltiples crisis de la atención a la salud

PRINCETON – La administración del presidente Barack Obama se pasó gran parte de 2009 ocupada a nivel interno con la lucha política por ampliar el seguro de enfermedades a las decenas de millones de estadounidenses que no lo tienen. A los habitantes de otros países industrializados esto les resulta difícil de comprender. Ellos tienen derecho a la atención a la salud y ni siquiera los gobiernos conservadores intentan quitárselo.

Las dificultades que a algunos estadounidenses les plantea la reforma de la atención a la salud nos dice más sobre su hostilidad al gobierno que sobre la atención a la salud en general. Pero el debate en los Estados Unidos destaca una cuestión subyacente que preocupará a casi todos los países desarrollados a partir de 2010: la lucha por controlar los costos de la atención a la salud.

La atención a la salud representa aproximadamente uno de cada seis dólares de todo el gasto estadounidense –tanto privado como público—y al ritmo que lleva se duplicará en 2035. Esa es una proporción mayor que en ningún otro lugar del mundo, pero el aumento de los costos de la salud también es un problema en países que gastan mucho menos.

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