Call for Essays - The Future of Social Insurance in U.S. Health Care


The role that social insurance (SI) could play in providing health insurance coverage for Americans has been a subject of discussion for decades and is sometimes robustly debated. However, there is no denying the ongoing importance of current social insurance programs in providing health insurance for millions of seniors, persons with disabilities, low-income families, and active military and veterans, among others.

Roughly half of Americans have health insurance coverage through their employer. The remainder are uninsured or covered through a social insurance program (including federally-subsidized coverage on the individual market). Medicare, Medicaid/CHIP, and other predominantly taxpayer-funded health insurance programs face a myriad of challenges, though. These challenges include provider willingness to treat SI beneficiaries (particularly for Medicaid enrollees), enrollees with complex medical needs, the impact of social determinants of health, funding adequacy, and more.

The Society of Actuaries’ Social Insurance and Public Finance (SIPF) Section recognizes a clear need to identify these challenges. As more people come to depend on social insurance for their health care coverage, the importance of identifying innovative actuarially-driven potential solutions to aid with the challenges and concerns outlined above grows proportionately. 

The SIPF is issuing this call for essays to further explore the role of SI in providing health care coverage in the U. S.  In issuing this call for essays, the SIPF aims to gather perspectives, opinions and data on the possible short and long-term consequences of current health-related SI programs and potential future ones. The organizers are particularly interested in the potential impact of these programs on a variety of stakeholders -- individuals, employers, Federal, State, and local governments and others --- and both direct and indirect possible outcomes.  


Authors, including co-authors, must be an SOA member in good standing. Social Insurance & Public Finance Section Council Members and judges may not enter.


As background, the organizers are interested in discussion of existing social insurance programs or ideas for new programs that authors envision serving current and expanded societal roles.  For context setting, authors may find it helpful to consider the overall theme of this call for essays:  What are ways that social insurance can address some of the gaps in our current health insurance landscape as we move forward into the 21st century? The organizers have deliberately written this call for essays with a broad scope to allow authors a wide range of options in crafting their essays.

As such, authors are free to take a macro focus on programs in general or choose to focus on one or more individual programs.   Similarly, authors may also discuss other insurance benefits that support health coverage, such as paid family leave, long-term care, short-term disability, or other HIPAA-excepted benefit plans.

The following are considerations that authors may find helpful in shaping their essays:

  • What perceived specific problems does the essay address?
  • Which current social insurance programs are under consideration in the essay and to what extent is a program currently considered by some to be sufficient or problematic?
  • To what extent would a new program be viewed as possibly solving current issues?
  • Which demographic groups are addressed in the essay? How would they benefit? What additional challenges may they face?
  • Which stakeholders addressed in the essay? How might the balance between stakeholders shift?
  • Are there practical barriers to the changes being discussed and how would they be resolved?
  • Have the ideas in the essay been tried before, perhaps outside of the U.S.? Are there any lessons that can be learned?

The above list is in no way intended to be exhaustive and authors are encouraged to consider other aspects of theme of this call for essays.


The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2021.

Length and Instructions for Submission

Essays must be submitted in English with a desired length of between 500 to 2,500 words. There is no requirement for formal or extensive footnoting.

Author information must be submitted with the essay and include name; credentials or designations (if appropriate); title; organization/company; e-mail address; and phone number. Please provide all author information at the beginning of the essay. 

Essays that contain any political statements, commercial content, and other inappropriate material will not be accepted. Articles must comply with the SOA's antitrust guidelines.

Please submit your essay via e–mail to:

Ladelia Berger (she/her/hers), Section Specialist
Society of Actuaries 


The review committee will select the leading essays and may elect to award a first prize of $2,000, a second prize of $1,000, and a third prize of $500 for the top three essays, and all essays that meet minimum standards will be published.  Consideration will be given to creativity, originality and the extent to which an idea could contribute to the further development of solutions.  In exchange for award money, selected authors will be required to assign all copyrights in their essays to the Society of Actuaries.

Authors are ineligible for awards if an essay is based on an SOA-sponsored and funded research study conducted by the author. However, authors are welcome to submit such essays for publication consideration.

Social Insurance and Public Finance Section council members, SOA staff members, and judges of this contest are all ineligible for awards, but welcome to submit essays for publication.

Publication and Presentation

Depending on how many essays are received and the diversity among the topic areas, a suitable format for electronic publication and dissemination will be selected.  Essays may also be presented at an SOA meeting, webcast, or other professional development event.

In addition, other venues for publication or presentation of the ideas outside of the SOA will be considered. It is hoped that publication of the collected essays will further knowledge and stimulate discussion as well as promote future efforts in this area. 

Rights Granted

Please understand that by submitting an essay for consideration, the essay author(s) is granting to the Society of Actuaries an unlimited license to print or republish their essay, with proper attribution given to the author(s).  


Please direct any questions regarding this Call for Essays to:

Ladelia Berger (she/her/hers), Section Specialist
Society of Actuaries