El niño enfermo, The sick child, painted by the Chilean painter Pedro Lira.
El niño enfermo, The sick child, painted by the Chilean painter Pedro Lira.

Healthcare in Chile is provided by the government via Fondo Nacional de Salud (FONASA) and by private insurers via Instituciones de Salud Previsional (ISAPREs).


Life expectancy development since 1900
Life expectancy development since 1900

Chile was one of the first Latin American countries introducing health care for the middle class funded through mandatory deductions from the salary, as in the Bismarckian welfare state. In the 1950s it introduced a national health care system, headed by the agency Fondo Nacional de Salud (FONASA). During the last decade of the military dictatorship a two tier system developed as people could opt out and buy private health insurance from private insurance companies called Instituciones de Salud Previsional (ISAPREs) for care by private providers at private clinics and private hospitals, which cost up to twice as much.[1]

Starting in 1990, the civilian government increased public funding, especially for hospitals, without further reform for more than a decade. In the early 2000s, President Ricardo Lagos strengthened the public-sector. Private health care became more and more expensive and as of 2015 covers only 19% of the population, down from a peak of 26%.

The so-called "Explicit Guarantee System (Acceso Universal con Garantías Explícitas, or AUGE), developed several guarantees for 56 health problems for the insured. It prescribed clinical guidelines and "no longer wait than preset periods for diagnosis, treatment, or follow-up", a maximum of out-of-pocket expense cap and a maximum designated waiting time, after which private providers for the services were an option. [1] The Lagos reform had earlier succeeded to reduce mortality rates especially with communicable diseases and mortality, even myocardial infarction it did so at the expense of chronic diseases. In 2010, the Constitutional Court of Chile declared the private insurance system's premiums adjustments for health risk by age and gender as discriminatory, disallowed it, but did not suggest an alternative mechanism. Health care consumer satisfaction has been decreasing since 2007 to its lowest point in 2014.[1]

Healthcare system

All workers and pensioners are mandated to pay 7% of income for health insurance (the poorest pensioners are exempt from this payment). Workers choosing not to join an Isapre are covered by Fonasa. Fonasa also covers those receiving unemployment benefits, uninsured pregnant women, the dependent family of insured workers, those with mental or physical disabilities, and the poor or indigent.[citation needed]

FONASA beneficiaries may use public or private health facilities if the private health facility or health professional is associated with Fonasa in one of three pricing levels. When choosing public health facilities the cost is free for people older than 60, people without income or with disabilities and for workers earning less than one minimum wage (MW), or less than 1.46 MW if they have three or more dependents to take care of. Workers earning between one and 1.46 MW and having less than two dependents, or earning more than 1.46 MW and having three or more dependents, pay 10% of costs. Workers earning more than 1.46 MW pay 20% of costs if they have two or fewer dependents.[2]

The level of protection offered by ISAPREs depends on the worker's income and medical risk, estimated by age, sex, family medical history, etc. (In August 2010 Chile's Constitutional Court declared risk determination based on sex and age to be unconstitutional.[3]) This may force an affiliate to seek treatment under Fonasa when a particular service or health condition is not covered by their Isapre.[4] Isapre participants pay on average 9.2% of their income toward health insurance. The additional paid over the required 7% is voluntary and is paid to increase the benefits available. Almost 60% of payers are in the top two quintiles of income, while only 7% are in the bottom quintile. Isapres often use networks of providers to offer discounted benefits. They also offer shorter time waiting for services. Fonasa, on the other hand, uses lower cost public hospitals, and can include a broader benefit package for the same cost. The trade-off is accessibility as the waiting time for services can be substantial.[5]

Over 50% of the public sector health budget is raised through taxation — this goes to the public social security system and the Fonasa plans to help cover expenses. Isapres cover all expenses using only the contributions of members.

Auge plan

There are a number of high-mortality pathological conditions (currently 80[6]) that have special guarantees for both Isapre and Fonasa affiliates. The Auge (from the Spanish Acceso Universal con Garantías Explícitas, "Universal Access with Explicit Guarantees") or Ges (Garantías Explícitas en Salud, "Explicit Guarantees in Healthcare") plan includes four guarantees in relation to these illnesses:[5]


As of December 22, 2014, there were 425 hospitals registered with the Ministry of Health.[8]

Hospitals fall into one of two administrative spheres - the Regional Ministry of Chile (SEREMI Secretaria Regional Ministerial de Chile) and the National Health Care System (Sistema Nacional de Servicios de Salud). The SEREMI accounts for 54% of hospitals (230) while the National Health Care System accounts for the remaining 46% of hospitals (195).[9]

Santiago, the capital city and most populous region of the country, accounts for 36% of the population and 30% of the country's hospitals (127 hospitals).


Beneficiaries as of 2017.[10][11][12]

System Affiliates %
Fonasa 13,926,475 75.61
Isapre 3,393,805 18.43
Total pop. 18,419,192 100.00

See also


  1. ^ a b c Thomas J. Bossert, Ph.D., and Thomas Leisewitz. Innovation and Change in the Chilean Health System. N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1-5. January 7, 2016, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1514202, retrieved January 7, 2016
  2. ^ Sistema de salud chileno Archived 2012-04-02 at the Wayback Machine (presentation)
  3. ^ "TC limitó uso de tablas de riesgo de isapres". Cooperativa.cl. 2010-07-27. Archived from the original on 2014-05-22. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  4. ^ Chile: Regime of Explicit Health Guarantees (Plan AUGE), World Bank
  5. ^ a b "The Changing Regulatory Environment of Healthcare in Chile" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  6. ^ "Garantías Explícitas en Salud (AUGE-GES) - ChileAtiende - Personas a tu servicio". Chileclic.gob.cl. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-28. Retrieved 2013-02-21.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Global Health Intelligence, "Global Health Intelligence" Archived 2017-01-27 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  9. ^ Health Statistics and Information Department (DEIS: Departamento de estadistica e informacion de salud - Listado de Establecimiento y Estrategias de salud), "DEIS". Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Boletín Estadístico 2016-2017". Fondo Nacional de Salud. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  11. ^ "Boletín Estadístico Año 2017". Superintendencia de Salud de Chile. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  12. ^ "Estimaciones y proyecciones de la población de Chile 1992-2050". Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas de Chile. Retrieved 2019-03-14.