What we can learn from Singapore
Townhall – John C. Goodman – 9/21/2013
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In 1984, Singapore instituted a revolutionary idea: a system of compulsory saving for medical expenses. That was the same year my colleagues and I at the National Center for Policy Analysis introduced the idea of Health Savings Accounts in this country.
After almost three decades, Singapore has now come to the attention of a lot others, including a book by Brookings, and a whole slew of posts by bloggers.
At the risk of disappointing you, Singapore does not have a free market for health care. What it does have is an alternative to the European/American welfare state, in which private saving and private insurance do what employers and governments do in other countries. The Singapore philosophy is:
• Each generation should pay its own way.
• Each family should pay its own way.
• Each individual should pay his own way.
• Only after passing through these three filters, should anyone turn to the government for help.
If the United States adopted a similar approach to public policy, there would be no deficit problem in this country.
A shift from the public to the private sector. The most important thing Singapore has accomplished in health care (in contrast to all the other developed countries) is an enormous shift of money and power from the government to the private sector. Since 1984, the Singaporean government's share of the nation's total health care expenditure dropped from about 50% to 20%. When you stop to think about it, that's incredible.