Prepaid companies are free to raise their fees whatever they want. This is how it is defined by Milei’s mega decree called “Bases for the reconstruction of the Argentine economy.” The rule establishes that “to increase the competitiveness of the system, price restrictions on the prepaid medicine system must be released.”

After knowing the decree, Claudio Belocopittthe owner of Swiss Medical and president of the Argentine Health Union (UAS) declared that “the average increase in delay to partially cushion the impacts we have will be between 40% and 50% in January”, a strong increase that will impact the deteriorated pockets of the working class.

The owner of Swiss Medical anticipated that this increase is a floor and there will surely be more increases in the following months. The businessman in dialogue with Radio con Vos justified that this increase “was created for an inflation of 3% per month and not for one of 25% or 30%” as is currently the case.

According to the specialized site MiObraSocial, the average price of a prepaid medicine plan is between $20,000 and $50,000 per month per person, considering updated values ​​as of November 2023. That is, if the fee was $50,000 considering the authorized increase in December ( 11.51%) In January this fee could rise to $83,600.

Competition?: Few concentrated companies

According to data from the 2022 Census, 6 out of every 10 people surveyed declared they had social or prepaid work (including PAMI); while little More than 3 out of 10 responded that they do not have social security, prepaid or state health plansthat is, they depend exclusively on the public system for their health care.

Law 26,682 establishes the regulation regime for: Prepaid Medicine Companies (EMP); Cooperatives; Mutuals; Civil associations; Foundations; Voluntary Adhesion Plans and the Superior or Complementary Plans for greater services marketed by the Health Insurance Agents (ASS) contemplated in laws 23,660 and 23,661.

According to data from the Superintendency of Health Services (May 2022), 6,796,690 people were affiliated with some of the entities regulated by Law 26,682 (prepaid medicine companies, mutual societies, cooperatives, associations, foundations, etc.)

A report from the former Ministry of Health shows the 10 entities with the highest number of affiliated people. The ten entities accumulated, in May 2022, 5,664,760 affiliates, while the other 60 registered only 1,131,930. That is to say, The 10 largest entities (Osde, Swiss Medical, Galeno, Sancor, Omint, among others) concentrate 83.4% of the population. There is a strong concentration of affiliates in a few companies. Far from the discourse of competition that Milei promotes, it will be a few companies that decide and may influence pricing (quotas).

For their part, it must be remembered that these companies cry that they could not increase their contributions, but they omit the benefits they received from the previous Government, such as the reduction of employer contributions during the pandemic, and the exemption of 100% of employer contributions. for those companies that adhered to the agreement not to increase fees to their affiliates.

Freedom for prepaid

For its part, the decree establishes that the enforcement authority, the Ministry of Health of the Nation, will no longer be responsible for supervising the values ​​of the fees of private health companies, nor will it be in charge of the transfer of affiliates of a company to another if the first firm goes bankrupt.

In addition, the articles that set tariffs and established sanctions were repealed, and differential prices are implemented for benefit plans according to age groups.

Prepaid medicine companies are incorporated into the social work regime, meaning that each member will be able to decide which company all of their contributions will go to, without going through a social work.

Business for pharmaceutical activity

The legal regime for the exercise of pharmaceutical activity (Law 17,565) was also modified. The main points are: repeal of the prohibition of installing medical offices in pharmacies, establishments that are not pharmacies were authorized to sell medications, pharmacists will be able to be “technical directors” of various establishments and drugstores will be able to dispense prescriptions.

In addition, the decree established that pharmacies “may be established through any legal entity permitted by current legislation” and will be able to operate at the hours they decide, without any restrictions.

Under this new standard pharmacies lose the exclusivity of selling medications. This policy was already carried out in the 90s by Cavallo. Rubén Sajem, director of the Center of Argentine Pharmaceutical Professionals (Ceprofar), told the newspaper Página12 that “at that time, medicines began to appear in kiosks, supermarkets, service stations and on public roads, at much higher prices than the that they had in pharmacies and without any type of control.” For Sajem, it is a benefit that is granted to the chambers that produce over-the-counter medicines in order to increase their sales, but it does not aim to improve the quality of the medicines.

Health is a right, not a business. That is why the left proposes a single national health systemand the state production of essential medicines to supply the entire country centralized in a single medicine bank.


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