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A Part of the Effort in Mexico’s Move Towards Universal Health Coverage

About the Initiative

  • Dr. Vargas-Bustamante, now an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Fielding School of Public Health, joined the administration of Vicente Fox when he was elected president of Mexico in 2000.
  • For the next two years Vargas-Bustamante worked for the Financial Protection Unit in Mexico’s Ministry of Health, conducting research that helped to shape the development of Seguro Popular, a program designed to bring universal coverage to a nation in which half of the population was uninsured.
  • Vargas-Bustamante was charged with comparing potential approaches to reform with the experiences of other countries in Latin America, and analyzing the types of health insurance coverage that could be integrated within the design of the program.


The primary goal of Seguro Popular was to improve access to care for vulnerable populations that were uninsured and unable to obtain health coverage under the previous system. By that measure, the program, which was first implemented in 2004, has succeeded.

  • The program has helped millions of families in Mexico, and the poorest families have benefited most from the program through reduced out-of-pocket expenditures.



Arturo Vargas Bustamante