February 26, 2013

The collapse of managed competition

The colombian Health Minister has just announced the end of competition between insurers under a mandatory health insurance scheme. This is an important announcement, two decades after Ley 100, managed competition will be removed from health policy scene.
We still have to wait for the details, but the application of what Alain Enthoven considered the best efficient option to ensure competition and mandatory coverage is ending in Colombia. The reasons are multiple and difficult to summarise in a post. The explanation deserves a whole book. The breaking point has been the scandals, corruption and fraud in EPS, the insurers side. About 50 companies were intervened and the amounts of embezeled money are impressive. Crime has entered into health care arena.
In my opinion, the most important lesson is that the introduction of social experiments and innovations are not appropriate if regulators don't understand the concept and the tools to manage the system. The policy dynamics and short-term views act against any regulatory stability, unless the country is committed to preserve the underlying principles of the health system. Therefore, be careful on experiments, it can be extremely costly in social terms.