Since 1973 the Chilean junta has privatized sectors of the national economy. This paper analyzes the country's policy process of promoting private medical programs through HMO-like plans (ISAPREs, or Institutes of Provisional Health). These plans have captured less than half of their originally anticipated market share. It is argued that the future performance of ISAPREs will be undermined by their limited maternal benefits, their targeting to a small upper-income group which cannot sustain many private medical programs, and competition with less expensive yet equally competent public medical programs. The paper briefly compares privatization in Chile with the experiences of other countries, and specifically contrasts the restructuring of health services under military rule in Chile with those of Argentina and Uruguay. The paper concludes that the Chilean experience with HMOs epitomizes the perils of planning health care during short-term periods of economic prosperity as well as failing to consult medical care providers and consumers.

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