Healthcare in Argentina

a 2 year public opinion research

This report intends to describe the process involving the research conducted on the healthcare system in Argentina. The research was conducted at the request of the Fundacion Sanatorio Guemes in order to study people’s perceptions on the Argentinean healthcare system. This investigation was made by IC Research, a public opinion polling company with 30 years of experience doing social research for NGOs, Governments, private companies, international agencies and political campaigns.

The main goals of the research were to assess the public’s opinion on the healthcare system, to determine what constitutes a quality healthcare in the eye of the public, the level of satisfaction with the current healthcare system, what aspects ought to be improved, what characteristics should an ideal healthcare system need to contemplate, and the actual use of the healthcare system people do.

This research was conducted in two different stages. The first stage (2011) consisted on focus groups, a general public poll, and a poll among doctors in Argentina.

According to the 2010 Census in Argentina, 46% of the population has OO.SS. coverage (OOSSs are Non Profit Healthcare providers, operated by Unions); 11% has Pre-Paid Medical insurance through their OOSS; 5% has only Pre-Paid Medical insurance; and 36% of the population does not have insurance and use the Public healthcare system.

First Stage

Focus Groups. The starting point of the research was focus groups. Focus groups are a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a product or service. The goal is to compare and analyze the results of different groups in order to attain a notion of what the public thinks on some specific problem.

The results of the focus groups provided us with a lot of information on a series of topics — the high level of satisfaction with the healthcare system, the key aspects of quality healthcare, the importance of the family doctor, the value of a second opinion, the need for a unified digital medical history, the value of choice — being able to choose your doctor, your company — the high esteem for doctors in Argentina, the role of government on healthcare and some other things.

Due to the information obtained through the focus groups, the need for quantitative research became clear in order to complement the findings of the focus groups. This would also allow us to analyze our findings not only as the opinions of some specific group but as the perceptions of the general public.

Poll

As previously said, through our findings in the focus group came the need to perform a quantitative research — poll-. A poll is a form of quantitative research that consists on a survey of public opinion from a particular sample, in order to extrapolate the results to the general public.

For this particular research, two polls were conducted in the first stage: a general public poll in order to assess the perceptions of the public on the healthcare system, and a poll among Argentinean doctors, the people that through the focus groups we realized were the heart of the healthcare system in Argentina. Here we present the main results:

General Public Poll

The poll was conducted among 2789 Argentineans of 18 years old or older. The study was finished by July 15th 2011 — it took 6 days — and has a +/- 3% margin of error. The data is presented according to the different topics of the questionnaire.

Profile

· Over half of the people are females (56, 6%) and the rest (43, 4%) are males.

· 28,9% are 18 to 29 years old; 26,9% are 30 to 44 years old; 22,9% are 45 to 59 years old; and 21,2% are 65 years old or more.

· 2, 9% of the interviewees have no formal education; 31, 1% attended only Elementary education (regardless if they finished it); 33, 4% attended High School education (regardless if they finished it); 14% attended higher education (regardless if they finished it); and 18, 5% completed their education in a university.

· 22,9% use the public healthcare system; 57,2% uses OOSS; 6,5% uses both OOSS and a pre-paid medicine insurance; and 13% uses only pre-paid medicine insurance.

Opinions on the healthcare system in general

The interviewees maintain a positive opinion on the Argentinean healthcare system (65, 7%). Almost half (47, 1%) think that the healthcare system is better now than it was ten years ago, and they also think it will be better ten years from now.

When we asked about the different types of healthcare services that exists, the OOSS were the most appreciated, followed by the public healthcare system and lastly, the pre-paid medicine companies.

Ideal Healthcare System

The interviewees are willing to accept some changes in the current healthcare system. On one hand, almost all of them (93%) think it’s necessary that the government invest more money on healthcare.

At the same time, 85, 1% of them think that people don’t have access to the same healthcare benefits and coverage. An impressive 98, 3% think that this is an important issue that needs to be dealt with. However, when asked about what type of decease or illness should be subject to equal access to healthcare, almost half (44,5%) think it would be in complex illness and expensive treatments such as AIDS.

A vast majority (96%) think that a Federal Healthcare Bill is necessary to guarantee a fair access to healthcare; and 87,9% think that everyone should be able to choose the type of service — OOSS, Public, Pre-Paid — that they want.

When asked about the ideal characteristics a healthcare facility or agent — OOSS, Hospital, Medical Center, etc. — should have, being able to get a consult fast and the expertise of the healthcare professionals were at the top:


Use of the Healthcare System

We asked about the different characteristics concerning how people use the healthcare system. Less than half (48, 6%) said that if they were unsatisfied they’d look for a second opinion.

Regarding consultation hours considering their latest experience, near 60% said that they were “adequate”, while 25, 3% said they were “very adequate”. When asked about the general level of satisfaction with the consults schedule system, 82, 9% said that they were satisfied. An interesting notion is that most people prefer to request for a consult by phone (85, 2%).

We also asked their opinion on different aspects of the places they last attended:


The results show a great level of satisfaction with the doctor’s performances. When asked about how long they waited until the doctor saw them, half of them (50%) claimed that they waited less than 30 minutes. Consequently with the levels of satisfaction regarding the services provided by doctors, waiting times, and clarity of the information provided, 76% claimed that they are confident on their doctors.

MD’s Poll

One of the things that we thought was interesting to investigate was the perception of doctors on the healthcare system. In order to do that, we conducted a research –poll — among them so that we could understand their opinions on the matter.

One of the things that caught our attention was that the vast majority (79%) have a positive opinion on the healthcare system of Argentina.

Additionally, when asked about how the healthcare system was compared to ten years ago, the opinions were slightly more divided than with the general public. 33% think that the healthcare system improved, 30% think that it stayed the same, and 33% think that the healthcare system is worse now than it was ten years ago.

When asked about how the healthcare system would be ten years from now, 35% said it would be better, 22% said it would stay as is, and 29% said it would be worse.

Additionally, regarding the different types of healthcare available — OOSS, Public, Pre-Paid Medicine — the Public option got the best results (77% positive opinion), followed by the pre-paid medicine companies (71%) and the OOSSs (62%).

Second Stage of the Research

In the second stage of the research we performed a second poll (2012) in order to verify and compare the results we had form the previous year.

Profile:

· 55, 3% are women and 44,7% are male.

· 25,6% are 18 to 29 years old; 30,1% are 30 to 44 years old; 27,6% are 45 to 59 years old; 13,8% are 60 to 74 years old; and 2,9% are over 75 years old.

· 2, 8% of the interviewees have no formal education; 27, 9% attended only Elementary education (regardless if they finished it); 43, 3% attended High School education (regardless if they finished it); 12, 2% attended higher education (regardless if they finished it); and 13, 8% attended a university.

Opinions on the Healthcare System

Among the interviewees, 34% uses the Public Healthcare System; while 38% claim to have an OOSS; 8% has OOSS and a Pre-Paid Medicine insurance; 7% only has Pre-Paid Medicine insurance; and 13% claims they have some sort of Government funded plan.

A vast majority (71, 4%) has a positive opinion on the healthcare system, slightly better that the year before (65, 7%). Similar to the previous year, most of them (90%) have a positive opinion on doctors, and most of them (88%) trust the doctors will be able to solve whatever problem they may have, becoming clearly, the heart and soul of the healthcare system in Argentina.

Considering the different types of coverage, OOSSs have a positive opinion of 67, 5%, similar to the Public option (67, 3%); and to the Pre-Paid Medicine insurance (69, 5%).

Another interesting fact is that yet again, the public seem to believe that everyone should be able to choose their type of coverage (87, 2%). In addition to this, they think that everyone should be able to choose their family doctor (97%).

Use of the Healthcare System

Centering our attention on the use of the healthcare system, near 68% of the interviewees say that the consultations hours of the last place their attended were adequate, while 18% said they were very adequate. Additionally, 83% said that the consultation schedules were positive.

Turning our attention to one the topics that has gotten the highest scores in our research, 94% said that they were satisfied with the attention received from the doctors.

Another interesting fact of our research is that nearly 83% said that the medical center where they last received medical attention had all the resources and material they needed to treat them efficiently.

An interesting fact that came up is that nearly 30% of the interviewees said that they have to pay an additional fee when they attend a medical consult (co-payment), and that 72% were against the co-payment system. When asked about the reasons, 49% said it was an additional cost with which they do not agree and 50% said it represented an additional and unnecessary paperwork.

Conclusions

As we can observe throughout our research, the healthcare system in Argentina is highly appreciated inspite of what people usually think. As we can see, the three different types of coverage — OOSS, Public, Pre-Paid insurance — are well appreciated.

It would seem that the core of these positive reviews is the Argentinean doctors, which are considered the core and main asset of the healthcare system.

The results of the different stages of the research — focus groups, polls, etc. — tells us about a society that is satisfied with the different healthcare options at hand, that believes healthcare is a priority, that thinks that the Government should invest in it, and that they don’t want any structural reforms in the system.

You can download the complete research from Fundación Sanatorio Guemes’ site http://www.fsg.com.ar/facebook/ediciones-fsg.php