Sometime during the 1990s, the U.S. Congress could enact legislation that would establish universal access to basic hospital and physician services and, later, create a national health insurance plan. The author explores the potential effect of these programs on state psychiatric facilities; short-term acute psychiatric care facilities, including those under for-profit ownership; mental health professionals; and delivery of patient care. Each year about 63 million uninsured Americans would be eligible for basic health care under a universal access program, and mentally ill patients who are now unable to afford care would then be eligible for limited mental health services. National health insurance, enacted after the universal-access approach fails, is likely to support the current trend of proportionately more ambulatory and less inpatient mental health care. Wealthy Americans are likely to use the national health insurance system but may also use private mental health services, thereby perpetuating the current pluralistic health care delivery system.