Mexico City offers free health insurance to tourists

After near-hysteria over Mexico’s outbreak of the H1N1 (swine) flu virus crippled the country’s tourism industry and resulted in record low hotel occupancy rates, Mexico City’s tourism is slowly rebounding. To help get tourism back to its pre-“aporkalypse” levels, the Mexico City Tourism Ministry is unveiling a new plan that officials hope will help convince people that it is safe to visit.

Any tourists who stay in one of Mexico City’s hotels will receive free health insurance. Under the plan, tourists are covered for not only treatment of the H1N1 virus, but also for any other disease or accident they suffer from while staying in Mexico City. Prescription drugs, emergency dental care, hospital stays, and ambulance transportation are also covered. There’s even assistance in case of robbery, luggage loss, or the delay or cancellation of a flight.

Mexico City normally welcomes around 7 million (international and domestic) visitors each year. When news of the H1N1 flu broke, tourists began to disappear and hotel occupancy rates plummeted, reaching as low as 5% in April, according to USA Today. Now they are around 59%, but the industry is still feeling the pinch. Officials hope that the offer of free health insurance may help sway those who were considering a trip to Mexico, but were concerned about the risk.


[via Los Angeles Times]

What Countries Have Universal Health Care?

A few nights ago, I watched Michael Moore’s new documentary, SiCKO, which focuses its crosshair on the health care industry in the United States. At one point in the movie, Mr. Moore claims that the United States is the only “westernized” country without universal health care. Is that true?

First, what does he mean by “westernized”? Defining the “western world” can be subjective, and definitions will vary depending on what criteria is used. Are you defining it from a cultural standpoint? Political? Economical? Perhaps this is why Mr. Moore felt comfortable making such a broad generalization. Is it even possible to truly define what the “western world” really is?

Okay, forget the western world. (I think I know what he meant anyway.) What countries on our good green Earth provide some sort of universal health care for their citizens? Here they are:

Countries in blue have some type of universal health care. Countries in green are currently attempting to implement some type of universal health care. Orange countries have universal health coverage provided by United States war funding. Source. Click to enlarge.

Afghanistan*, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iraq*, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and the United Kingdom

*Universal health coverage provided by United States war funding

There you go. Keep in mind: this is a simple list of countries that have some sort of publicly sponsored health care system. For instance, Sri Lanka may be far from having a true, working universal health care system like France, but prescription drugs are provided by a government-owned drug manufacturer. This qualifies as “some sort of publicly sponsored, universal health care system.”