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Individual Health Insurance Markets That Work, Part Two

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, November 20, 2013

In the U.S., I think we're going to have a push from consumers who are financially exposed and want to shop. What I'm saying is we could borrow some tools from Australia, and that's the value of a trip like this.

HLM: Did Australian officials indicate that other health plan executives from the U.S. were also interested in some of the components of a foreign healthcare system for potential adoption in the U.S.?

No. What I heard was the complete opposite. Australia is very far away. I know that sounds very basic, but it is far, and that could be a barrier. Practically speaking, we've got our hands full in the U.S. There are plenty of working examples. In Australia they do not, so they have to look inward. But, by not looking overseas we miss opportunities to broaden our thinking

HLM: Was the retail component of healthcare in Singapore similar to Australia's?

Gordon: No. It was quite different. In Singapore, there is not a very mature health insurance system. Their system is a layered and thoughtful, sort of a complex mix of government and private sector interplay. What I didn't see is a really robust private insurance market.

The most compelling thing about Singapore was that they mandate health savings. It's called the Central Providence Fund, and they save for retirement, generically, and for healthcare. We, in the U.S., pay into Social Security and Medicare, but those funds we pay are pooled, so a 20-something American is not paying for himself, he is paying for his mother or his grandmother, so to speak.

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