Health insurance is a type of insurance coverage that covers the cost of an insured individual’s medical and surgical expenses. Depending on the type of health insurance coverage, either the insured pays costs out-of-pocket and is then reimbursed, or the insurer makes payments directly to the provider.
In health insurance terminology, the “provider” is a clinic, hospital, doctor, laboratory, health care practitioner, or pharmacy. The “insured” is the owner of the health insurance policy; the person with the health insurance coverage.
In countries without universal health care coverage, such as the USA, health insurance is commonly included in employer benefit packages and seen as an employment perk.
Is health insurance coverage a human right or another product one can buy?
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom or Canada, health care coverage is provided by the state and is seen as every citizen’s right – it is classed along with public education, the police, firefighters, street lighting, and public road networks, as a part of a public service for the nation.
In other countries, such as the USA, health insurance coverage is seen somewhat differently – with the exception of some groups, such as elderly and/or disabled people, veterans and some others, it is the individual’s responsibility to be insured. More recently, the Obama Administration has introduced laws making it mandatory for everybody to have health insurance, and there are penalties for those who fail to have a policy of some kind.
Everybody at some time in their life, and often on many occasions, will need some kind of medical attention and treatment. When medical care is required, ideally the patient should be able to concentrate on getting better, rather than wondering whether he/she has got the resources to pay for all the bills. This view is becoming more commonly held in nearly all the developed nations.