In Latin America, competing definitions of universal health care are found. Variants include traditional universalism, basic universalism, and minimal or residual universalism. These definitions are informed by European traditions, a renewed emphasis on equity among Latin American social policy experts, and World Bank strategy. This essay explores these definitions as well as areas of overlap and points of difference between and among them using examples from several Latin American countries. The most important difference concerns the preventive and curative services not covered by the benefits packages of minimal universal programs, a gap expected to grow increasingly costly for patients.

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