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Encyclopedia > Social health insurance

Broadly speaking, health care systems across the world are funded in three different ways: by private contributions, social health insurance contributions or taxes. Social health insurance systems are characterized by the presence of sickness funds which usually receive a proportional contribution of their members' wages. With this insurance contributions these funds generally pay part medical costs of their members, to the extent that the services are included in the, sometimes nationally defined, benefit package. Otto von Bismarck was the first to make social health insurance mandatory on a national scale (in Germany), but social health insurance was already common for many centuries before among guilds mainly in continental Europe.


Saltman, R.B., Busse, R. and Figueras, J. (2004) Social health insurance systems in western Europe. Berkshire/New York: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0335213634

Saltman, R.B. and Dubois, H.F.W. (2004) Individual incentive schemes in social health insurance systems, 10(2): 21-25. Full text

Saltman, R.B. and Dubois, H.F.W. (2005) Current reform proposals in social health insurance countries, Eurohealth, 11(1): 10-14. Full text

Van de Ven, W.P.M.M., Beck, K., Buchner, F. et al. (2003) Risk adjustment and risk selection on the sickness fund market in five European countries, Health Policy, 65(1=: 75-98.

Veraghtert, K.F.E. and Widdershoven, B.E.M. (2002) Twee eeuwen solidariteit: De Nederlandse, Belgische en Duitse ziekenfondsen tijdens de negentiende en twintigste eeuw. Amsterdam: Aksant. ISBN 9052600147

External links

  • Association Internationale de la Mutualit√©

  Results from FactBites:
WHO | Health financing mechanisms (371 words)
In social health insurance, contributions from workers, the self-employed, enterprises and government are pooled into a single or multiple funds on a compulsory basis.
Within social health insurance, a number of functions may be executed by parastatal or non-governmental sickness funds or in a few cases by private health insurance companies.
Several low- and middle-income countries are interested in extending their existing health insurance for specific groups to eventually cover their entire populations.
Health Care in China (8430 words)
Health care provision was greatly decentralized and diffused throughout the countryside and city neighborhoods during the Maoist era.
The health status of this 15% of the total population is similar to that of the least developed nations.
If private medical insurance is to be expanded in China, one must consider however that the severance of the health care delivery function (physicians) from the funding function (insurers) may precipitate a take-off in health care expenditures, just as has been the case in Western nations.
  More results at FactBites »



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