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[Comment] The perils and possibilities of the private health sector

Few issues provoke as much disagreement, even anger, as the question of the private sector’s role in delivering health care. Supporting a contribution by the private health sector towards achieving the goal of universal health coverage is seen as a betrayal of public welfare by many critics. For those of us brought up with (or trained within) a publicly financed health system (such as the UK’s National Health Service), private provision of health care may be anathema. Very often, we will rail against private providers—the profit they make from the sick, the catastrophic health expenditures they may cause, or the latitude they enjoy to exploit the poor in systems where government regulation is weak or non-existent.