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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Alternative approaches to universal access to health insurance

Brian Ferguson, Department of Economics, University of Guelph, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada, 519-824-4120 ext 53538, brianfer@uoguelph.ca, Jonathan Gruber, PhD, Department of Economics, MIT, E52-355, 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02142-1347, and Audrey Laporte, PhD, Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8, Canada.

The state of Massachusetts recently passed a bill aimed at ensuring that everyone in the state has health insurance. The new law is based on the idea of an individual mandate, meaning that residents of the state are required to obtain health insurance, and includes premium subsidies for low income individuals and tax penalties for individuals who can afford health insurance but refuse to buy it.

The 2006 APHA meetings, being held, as they are, in Boston, the Economics Committee of the Medical Care Section proposes that we hold an Invited Session focusing on approaches to ensuring universal access to health insurance. The session would cover at least three alternative approaches - the Individual Mandate, where the onus is on the individual to obtain his own health insurance, the Employer Mandate, where the primary mechanism would involve requiring all employers to provide insurance, and Single Payer Health Insurance. The discussion could also include hybrid proposals, if it seemed that weaknesses in one approach could be compensated for by the introduction of elements of another approach. The panel would consist of economists each of whom would be asked to set out the case for one of the alternative approaches focusing on the economic perspective. The aim of the panel would not be to tell the audience which approach is best, especially since it might well prove that different circumstances favored different approaches, but to set out the relative strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches, focusing on the economic aspects of each approach, and to stimulate informed discussion from the floor about feasible approaches to ensuring universal insurance.

Prof. Jonathan Gruber of the Department of Economics at MIT has agreed to discuss the Massachusetts plan. Prof. Sherry Glied of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University has agreed to discuss the employer-based approach. A Canadian health economist will discuss the national single payer approach.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Access, Health Insurance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Alternative Approaches to Universal Access to Health Insurance

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA