Social health insurance: a quantitative exploration

Author/Creator ORCID




Towson University. Department of Economics


Citation of Original Publication

Juergen Jung & Chung Tran, 2016. "Social Health Insurance: A Quantitative Exploration," Working Papers 2016-02, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2016.



We quantify the welfare implications of three alternative approaches to providing health insurance: (i) a US-style mix of private and public health insurance, (ii) compulsory univer- sal public health insurance (UPHI) and (iii) private health insurance for workers combined with government subsidies and price regulation. We use a Bewley-Grossman lifecycle model calibrated to match the lifecycle structure of earnings and health risks in the US. For all three systems we find that welfare gains triggered by a combination of improvements in risk sharing and wealth redistribution dominate welfare losses caused by tax distortions and ex-post moral hazard effects. Overall, the UPHI system outperforms the other two systems in terms of welfare gains if the coinsurance rate is properly designed. A direct comparison between the US system to a well-designed UPHI system reveals that large welfare gains are possible in the long-run. However, such a radical reform faces political impediments due to opposing welfare effects across different income groups.