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Financing Health in Latin America, Volume 1: Household Spending and Impoverishment

Financing Health in Latin America, Volume 1: Household Spending and Impoverishment

Edited by Felicia Marie Knaul, Rebeca Wong, and Héctor Arreola-Ornelas

ISBN 9780982914427

Publication date: 02/25/2013

Among the most serious challenges facing health systems in lower and middle income countries is establishing efficient, fair, and sustainable financing mechanisms that offer universal protection. Lack of financial protection forces families to suffer the burden not only of illness but also of economic ruin and impoverishment. In Latin America, financial protection for health continues to be segmented and fragmented; health is mainly financed through out-of-pocket payments.

Financing Health in Latin America presents new and important insight into the crucial issue of financial protection in health systems. The book analyzes the level and determinants of catastrophic health expenditures among households in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Peru, applying both descriptive and econometric analyses. The results demonstrate that out-of-pocket health spending is pushing large segments of the population into impoverishment and that the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population are most at risk of financial catastrophe. This work is a product of the collaboration between more than 25 researchers and 18 institutions associated with the Research for Health Financing in Latin America and the Caribbean Network, with support from the International Development Research Centre of Canada.


  • Felicia Marie Knaul, Ph.D., is Director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, and Senior Economist at the Mexican Health Foundation. She is also the founder of Cáncer de mama: Tómatelo a Pecho.
  • Rebeca Wong is P. & S. Kempner Distinguished Professor in Health Disparities at the Sealy Center on Aging, University of Texas Medical Branch.
  • Héctor Arreola-Ornelas is Economic Research Coordinator at Fundación Mexicana para la Salud.

Book Details

  • 304 pages
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University