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Glob Public Health. 2012;7(10):1157-69. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2012.721894. Epub 2012 Sep 13.

Public versus private treatment of chronic diseases in seniors: Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

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  • 1Public Health Division, ICF International, Atlanta, GA, USA.


This article measures differences in the likelihood of treatment of chronic diseases in elders across types of coverage (private, public and social security) in four major Latin American cities: Buenos Aires (Argentina), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Santiago (Chile) and Montevideo (Uruguay). We used a logistic regression to estimate the odds ratio for treatment of chronic diseases carried by individuals with public, private and social security coverage. The data were from the Survey on health, well-being and aging in Latin America and the Caribbean (SABE) conducted in 1999 and 2000. We find a strong association between possession of public coverage only and treatment failure of chronic diseases in elders in Argentina. We find no significant association for Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. In Buenos Aires, access to private or social security coverage is a necessity for elders because the public sector fails to provide proper treatment. In the remaining cities, private or social security coverage provides similar coverage for chronic diseases in elders compared with the public sector. For this group of countries, the main difference between the former and the latter seems to be in terms of 'luxurious' characteristics, such as the quality of the facilities and waiting times.

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