Healthcare provision for elderly people in Argentina: The crisis of PAMI

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper highlights the problems of administering health insurance programmes in Latin America and the difficulties of imposing effective reforms. It examines the development, financial collapse and subsequent restructuring of a health insurance programme specifically targeting elderly people in Argentina. By the 1990s the Integrated Healthcare Programme (PAMI) had become one of the largest components of the country's public welfare system, managing an annual budget of US$ 2.5billion. It provided elderly people with a wide range of services, including free and discounted medical care and a national network of day centres. The Programme was widely praised as efficient and innovative both within Argentina and beyond and was considered a model which other developing countries might emulate. However, in 1994 it was discovered that PAMI had accumulated a deficit of US$ 1.3 billion and was suffering from a large number of serious structural weaknesses. These included a complete absence of financial accountability (both internally and externally), the piecemeal expansion of services, employment featherbedding, political patronage and corruption. Also, the Programme had contributed to long-standing inequalities between different geographical regions and between insured and uninsured populations. Since then, numerous attempts have been made to reform the Programme, some of which have received funding from the World Bank, but these initiatives are only being very gradually implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-389
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes

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