Fixing the American Health System

June 17, 2021
William C. Hsiao.

“The United States, by my analysis, has a system that cannot be sustained.” With this succinct and powerful statement, Professor William C. Hsiao, PhD, FSA—and GHELI’s Senior Faculty Scholar—kicked off a webinar earlier this spring examining the flaws of the American health system and exploring the promise of a single-payer system.

Dr. Hsiao emphasized that previous approaches to improve the U.S. health system—from Medicare and Medicaid to Obamacare—are temporary solutions to an undeniably structural problem. In contrast, a single-payer system could alleviate the stress of the uninsured or underinsured while potentially saving the U.S. 30 percent, or $1.1 trillion a year, in the long run. Politics, however, remain the greatest roadblock towards reform.

Hsiao is the K.T. Li Research Professor of Economics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he has spent over forty years conducting health financing studies, including on single payer systems. Dr. Hsiao is also known for the Control Knobs model, an analytical model for national health systems that is taught and used worldwide. Eight nations commissioned Professor Hsiao and his team to design major reforms of their national health systems. 

To learn more, watch the newly available recording of Dr. Hsiao’s resoundingly popular talk or read the summary in The Harvard Crimson.