UNIMED - A Unique Co-operative Model (1997)

This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
April, 1997
(Source: ICA News, Issue No.1/1997, pp. 2)

			UNIMED - A Unique Co-operative Model 

				by  Zahid Qureshi of ICMIF

Santos, in Brazil's state of  Sao Paulo, is Latin America's largest sea port. 
On 18 December 1967 it gained another distinction. To counteract the 
growing commercialisation of health services, the city's medical syndicate, 
led by Dr. Edmundo Castilho, set up the first Unimed co-operative. Before 
long, the "medical co-operation" of the 21 founding doctors was embraced 
by other associations and syndicates of doctors.

In 1972 Unimed do Brasil was set up to consolidate the system within a 
political and administrative structure providing nationwide guidelines. 
Today, Unimed is found in 3,700 or 70% of Brazilian municipalities, 
with 304 co-operatives bringing together some 73,000 doctors serving 
eight million users.

The Unimed Multico-operative Business Complex now includes Unimed 
co-operatives for users, Unimed savings and credit co-operatives inspired 
by Mondragon, Unimed Systems to co-ordinate information technology in 
the provision of services, Unimed Products and Health Services, the Unimed 
Study Centre Foundation, Unimed Air for emergency services, and Unimed 
Insurance covering some 2.5 million clients. Products offered by Unimed 
Aseguradora include medical insurance, group life, income guarantee, loan 
insurance, reinsurance for operational risks of co-operatives, and a private 
pension plan. Unimed is spreading its model through joint action in other 
countries - Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, to name a few. 
Unimed is a unique model whose success is proven by numbers, says 
Dr. Castilho. "It is the result of hard work and vigorous ethics. We present 
this victorious model to fellow-co-operators in all countries of the world."

In June 1995, Unimed organised an International Forum on Health Care 
Co-operation in conjunction with the ICA and put forward a proposal to 
include health among the affairs of the ICA. With Dr. Castilho as the driving 
force and assistance from co-operative organisations in Japan and Spain, a 
new specialised organisation of the ICA is now created. The International 
Health Co-operative Organisation (IHCO) held  its official founding meeting 
in San Jose, Costa Rica, 22 November 1996.

Among IHCO's plans are to explore areas of collaboration with ICMIF, 
including the possibility of the insurance programmes of health co-operatives 
applying for membership of ICMIF.

Ruben Villa from COCETA in  Spain making an intervention at the Founding 
meeting of the ICA's International Health Co-operative Organisation.  Sitting 
at the top table from left are: Dr. Mallmann from UNIMED, Mats Ahnlund, 
Secretary of IHCO from ICA Secretariat, and the newly-elected Chairman of 
IHCO,  Dr. Kato from the JCCU Medical Committee.

			Latest Co-operative Health Care News

MultiPlan, a New York-based health plan headed by a well-known co-operative 
builder has joined hands across the Caribbean with one of the world's largest 
co-operative health organizations, Cooperativa de Seguros de Vida de Puerto 
Rico (COSVI).

COSVI and MultiPlan announced jointly that they are expanding to Puerto Rico 
adding to their network 74 hospitals, 120 other facilities and 4,000 physicians 
participating in COSVI's island-wide health plans. 

Some 20 million people have access to the MultiPlan.