The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have experienced tremendous economic and health gains in recent decades. Two of the major health challenges faced by the BRICS and other low and middle income countries are decreasing inequity in health outcomes and increasing affordability of health insurance. One fiscally sustainable option for the BRICS governments is a public subsidy system for private health insurance plans. This essay lays out the potential applicability and impacts of public subsidies for private health insurance plans, as well as opportunities and challenges for implementation, in the BRICS countries. Overall, providing public subsidies rather than health insurance would enable the BRICS governments to avoid the open-ended financial liabilities that have plagued advanced economies, while still expanding access to health insurance and encouraging the develoment of a robust private health insurance market. We conclude by suggesting an array of pilot programs that could serve as the seeds for publicly subsidized health insurance schemes within the BRICS markets.
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