Navigating and Circumventing a Fragmented Health System: The Patient’s Pathway in the Sierra Madre Region of Chiapas, Mexico



Mexico has implemented several important reforms in how health care for its poorest is financed and delivered. Seguro Popular, in particular, a recently implemented social insurance program, aims to provide new funds for a previously underfunded state-based safety net system. Through in-depth ethnographic structured interviews with impoverished farmers in the state of Chiapas, this article presents an analysis of Seguro Popular from the perspective of a highly underserved beneficiary group. Specific points of tension among the various stakeholders—the government system (including public clinics, hospitals, and vertical programs), community members, private doctors, and pharmacies—are highlighted and discussed. Ethnographic data presented in this article expose distinct gaps between national health policy rhetoric and the reality of access to health services at the community level in a highly marginalized municipality in one of Mexico’s poorest states. These insights have important implications for the structure and implementation of on-going reforms.

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