Opinion: Better use of health savings accounts: lessons from Singapore

2 months ago 55

Today, 9 in 10 Americans have health insurance, more than ever before, yet health care is less affordable than ever. Up to 100 million U.S. adults carry medical debt. Skyrocketing inflation is forcing people to decide between spending money on medical care or other necessities like food and housing. People typically spend thousands of dollars, in addition to premiums, before insurance kicks in. And rising out-of-pocket costs are just one side of the story: Health insurance premiums are going up, too. Employer-sponsored insurance cost a whopping $22,221 per family in 2021. That’s one-third of the median household income.

The insurance system in the U.S. is broken. Rather than continuing to plow money into insurance and expensive case, families should be stowing that cash away for future health care needs. That’s what they do in Singapore. There, people save toward their own health care needs via mandatory individual health savings accounts — with the government serving as the safety net.

Singapore’s system has seen far more success than the U.S.’s insurance-based system, and at a fraction of the cost.


Singapore spends about 4% of its gross domestic product on health care (the U.S. spends 18%) and achieves superior health outcomes. To be sure, the experiences of a city-state with a population of fewer than 6 million residents and that of the U.S. with more than 330 million are not directly comparable. But it’s worth exploring how Singapore has achieved its success.

A good part of it may be credited to what the nation’s

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