Tear gas, neoliberalism, and #PatientsIncluded — will it blend?

image credit: my crazy brain

The tear gas

I traveled to Santiago, Chile recently. My timing was auspicious, since my news-puke bingo card still had an open slot preventing me from screaming BINGO at the top of my lungs. That open square was “get tear gassed” — it got filled at around 11am Atlantic Time on Monday, October 21, as tear gas rolled down Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins, called La Alameda by locals. It’s really hard to scream BINGO at the top of your lungs while getting tear gassed, by the way. In case you wondered.

image credit: Mighty Casey Media LLC

The neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is an ideology and policy model that emphasizes the value of free market competition. It first appeared as a word/concept around the turn of the 20th century, when all sorts of intellectual fist fights were going on over “communism or nah?” and “capitalism or nah?” I’m not going to go into a whole history of classical liberalism — short snort definition is “political philosophy and ideology in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government.”

photo of woman holding cardboard sign saying “neoliberalism was born in Chile and will die in Chile”
photo of woman holding cardboard sign saying “neoliberalism was born in Chile and will die in Chile”
image credit: @UptownBerber on Twitter

HTF does #PatientsIncluded come in here?

I’m SO glad you asked!

  • This reform served as a model for later World Bank–inspired reforms in countries like Colombia.
  • The private part of the Chilean health system, including private insurers and private providers, is highly inefficient and has decreased solidarity between rich and poor, sick and healthy, and young and old.
  • In spite of serious underfinancing during the Pinochet years, the public health component remains the backbone of the system and is responsible for the good health status of the Chilean population.
  • The Chilean health reform has lessons for other countries in Latin America and elsewhere: privatisation of health insurance services may not have the expected results according to neoliberal doctrine. On the contrary, it may increase unfairness in financing and inequitable access to quality care. [emphasis mine]
Photo of books, posters, and flyers from the Archive of the Graphic Resistance in Santiago, Chile
from the collection of the Archive of the Graphic Resistance in Santiago, Chile — image credit: Mighty Casey Media LLC

The Mighty Mouth: #epatient, fire-starter, journalist. Healthcare Is HILARIOUS! podcaster. Support the work: https://www.patreon.com/mightycasey

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