Health insurance

Health insurance is an insurance that covers the whole or a part of the risk of a person incurring medical expenses, spreading the risk over a large number of persons. By estimating the overall risk of health care and health system expenses over the risk pool, an insurer can develop a routine finance structure, such as a monthly premium or payroll tax, to provide the money to pay for the health care benefits specified in the insurance agreement.[1] The benefit is administered by a central organization such as a government agency, private business, or not-for-profit entity.

According to the Health Insurance Association of America, health insurance is defined as "coverage that provides for the payments of benefits as a result of sickness or injury. It includes insurance for losses from accident, medical expense, disability, or accidental death and dismemberment" (p. 225).[2]

Background

A health insurance policy is:

  1. A contract between an insurance provider (e.g. an insurance company or a government) and an individual or his/her sponsor (e.g. an employer or a community organization). The contract can be renewable (e.g. annually, monthly) or lifelong in the case of private insurance, or be mandatory for all citizens in the case of national plans. The type and amount of health care costs that will be covered by the health insurance provider are specified in writing, in a member contract or "Evidence of Coverage" booklet for private insurance, or in a national health policy for public insurance.
  2. (US specific) Provided by an employer-sponsored self-funded ERISA plan. The company generally advertises that they have one of the big insurance companies. However, in an ERISA case, that insurance company "doesn't engage in the act of insurance", they just administer it. Therefore, ERISA plans are not subject to state laws. ERISA plans are governed by federal law under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Labor (USDOL). The specific benefits or coverage details are found in the Summary Plan Description (SPD). An appeal must go through the insurance company, then to the Employer's Plan Fiduciary. If still required, the Fiduciary's decision can be brought to the USDOL to review for ERISA compliance, and then file a lawsuit in federal court.

The individual insured person's obligations may take several forms:

  • Premium: The amount the policy-holder or their sponsor (e.g. an employer) pays to the health plan to purchase health coverage.
  • Deductible: The amount that the insured must pay out-of-pocket before the health insurer pays its share. For example, policy-holders might have to pay a $500 deductible per year, before any of their health care is covered by the health insurer. It may take several doctor's visits or prescription refills before the insured person reaches the deductible and the insurance company starts to pay for care. Furthermore, most policies do not apply co-pays for doctor's visits or prescriptions against your deductible.
  • Co-payment: The amount that the insured person must pay out of pocket before the health insurer pays for a particular visit or service. For example, an insured person might pay a $45 co-payment for a doctor's visit, or to obtain a prescription. A co-payment must be paid each time a particular service is obtained.
  • Coinsurance: Instead of, or in addition to, paying a fixed amount up front (a co-payment), the co-insurance is a percentage of the total cost that insured person may also pay. For example, the member might have to pay 20% of the cost of a surgery over and above a co-payment, while the insurance company pays the other 80%. If there is an upper limit on coinsurance, the policy-holder could end up owing very little, or a great deal, depending on the actual costs of the services they obtain.
  • Exclusions: Not all services are covered. Billed items like use-and-throw, taxes, etc. are excluded from admissible claim. The insured are generally expected to pay the full cost of non-covered services out of their own pockets.
  • Coverage limits: Some health insurance policies only pay for health care up to a certain dollar amount. The insured person may be expected to pay any charges in excess of the health plan's maximum payment for a specific service. In addition, some insurance company schemes have annual or lifetime coverage maxima. In these cases, the health plan will stop payment when they reach the benefit maximum, and the policy-holder must pay all remaining costs.
  • Out-of-pocket maximum: Similar to coverage limits, except that in this case, the insured person's payment obligation ends when they reach the out-of-pocket maximum, and health insurance pays all further covered costs. Out-of-pocket maximum can be limited to a specific benefit category (such as prescription drugs) or can apply to all coverage provided during a specific benefit year.
  • Capitation: An amount paid by an insurer to a health care provider, for which the provider agrees to treat all members of the insurer.
  • In-Network Provider: (U.S. term) A health care provider on a list of providers preselected by the insurer. The insurer will offer discounted coinsurance or co-payments, or additional benefits, to a plan member to see an in-network provider. Generally, providers in network are providers who have a contract with the insurer to accept rates further discounted from the "usual and customary" charges the insurer pays to out-of-network providers.
  • Prior Authorization: A certification or authorization that an insurer provides prior to medical service occurring. Obtaining an authorization means that the insurer is obligated to pay for the service, assuming it matches what was authorized. Many smaller, routine services do not require authorization.[3]
  • Explanation of Benefits: A document that may be sent by an insurer to a patient explaining what was covered for a medical service, and how payment amount and patient responsibility amount were determined.[3]

Prescription drug plans are a form of insurance offered through some health insurance plans. In the U.S., the patient usually pays a copayment and the prescription drug insurance part or all of the balance for drugs covered in the formulary of the plan. Such plans are routinely part of national health insurance programs. For example, in the province of Quebec, Canada, prescription drug insurance is universally required as part of the public health insurance plan, but may be purchased and administered either through private or group plans, or through the public plan.[4]

Some, if not most, health care providers in the United States will agree to bill the insurance company if patients are willing to sign an agreement that they will be responsible for the amount that the insurance company doesn't pay. The insurance company pays out of network providers according to "reasonable and customary" charges, which may be less than the provider's usual fee. The provider may also have a separate contract with the insurer to accept what amounts to a discounted rate or capitation to the provider's standard charges. It generally costs the patient less to use an in-network provider.

Comparisons

Health Expenditure per capita OECD 2013
Health Expenditure per capita (in PPP-adjusted US$) among several OECD member nations. Data source: OECD's iLibrary[5]

The Commonwealth Fund, in its annual survey, "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall", compares the performance of the health care systems in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the U.S. Its 2007 study found that, although the U.S. system is the most expensive, it consistently under-performs compared to the other countries.[6] One difference between the U.S. and the other countries in the study is that the U.S. is the only country without universal health insurance coverage.

Life Expectancy OECD 2013
Life Expectancy of the total population at birth from 2000 until 2011 among several OECD member nations. Data source: OECD's iLibrary[7]

The Commonwealth Fund completed its thirteenth annual health policy survey in 2010.[8] A study of the survey "found significant differences in access, cost burdens, and problems with health insurance that are associated with insurance design".[8] Of the countries surveyed, the results indicated that people in the United States had more out-of-pocket expenses, more disputes with insurance companies than other countries, and more insurance payments denied; paperwork was also higher although Germany had similarly high levels of paperwork.[8]

Australia

The Australian public health system is called Medicare, which provides free universal access to hospital treatment and subsidised out-of-hospital medical treatment. It is funded by a 2% tax levy on all taxpayers, an extra 1% levy on high income earners, as well as general revenue.

The private health system is funded by a number of private health insurance organizations. The largest of these is Medibank Private Limited, which was, until 2014, a government-owned entity, when it was privatized and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Australian health funds can be either 'for profit' including Bupa and nib; 'mutual' including Australian Unity; or 'non-profit' including GMHBA, HCF and the HBF Health Fund (HBF). Some, such as Police Health, have membership restricted to particular groups, but the majority have open membership. Membership to most health funds is now also available through comparison websites like moneytime, Compare the Market, iSelect Ltd., Choosi, ComparingExpert and YouCompare. These comparison sites operate on a commission-basis by agreement with their participating health funds. The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman also operates a free website which allows consumers to search for and compare private health insurers' products, which includes information on price and level of cover.[9]

Most aspects of private health insurance in Australia are regulated by the Private Health Insurance Act 2007. Complaints and reporting of the private health industry is carried out by an independent government agency, the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman. The ombudsman publishes an annual report that outlines the number and nature of complaints per health fund compared to their market share [10]

The private health system in Australia operates on a "community rating" basis, whereby premiums do not vary solely because of a person's previous medical history, current state of health, or (generally speaking) their age (but see Lifetime Health Cover below). Balancing this are waiting periods, in particular for pre-existing conditions (usually referred to within the industry as PEA, which stands for "pre-existing ailment"). Funds are entitled to impose a waiting period of up to 12 months on benefits for any medical condition the signs and symptoms of which existed during the six months ending on the day the person first took out insurance. They are also entitled to impose a 12-month waiting period for benefits for treatment relating to an obstetric condition, and a 2-month waiting period for all other benefits when a person first takes out private insurance. Funds have the discretion to reduce or remove such waiting periods in individual cases. They are also free not to impose them to begin with, but this would place such a fund at risk of "adverse selection", attracting a disproportionate number of members from other funds, or from the pool of intending members who might otherwise have joined other funds. It would also attract people with existing medical conditions, who might not otherwise have taken out insurance at all because of the denial of benefits for 12 months due to the PEA Rule. The benefits paid out for these conditions would create pressure on premiums for all the fund's members, causing some to drop their membership, which would lead to further rises in premiums, and a vicious cycle of higher premiums-leaving members would ensue.

The Australian government has introduced a number of incentives to encourage adults to take out private hospital insurance. These include:

  • Lifetime Health Cover: If a person has not taken out private hospital cover by 1 July after their 31st birthday, then when (and if) they do so after this time, their premiums must include a loading of 2% per annum for each year they were without hospital cover. Thus, a person taking out private cover for the first time at age 40 will pay a 20 percent loading. The loading is removed after 10 years of continuous hospital cover. The loading applies only to premiums for hospital cover, not to ancillary (extras) cover.
  • Medicare Levy Surcharge: People whose taxable income is greater than a specified amount (in the 2011/12 financial year $80,000 for singles and $168,000 for couples[11]) and who do not have an adequate level of private hospital cover must pay a 1% surcharge on top of the standard 1.5% Medicare Levy. The rationale is that if the people in this income group are forced to pay more money one way or another, most would choose to purchase hospital insurance with it, with the possibility of a benefit in the event that they need private hospital treatment – rather than pay it in the form of extra tax as well as having to meet their own private hospital costs.
    • The Australian government announced in May 2008 that it proposes to increase the thresholds, to $100,000 for singles and $150,000 for families. These changes require legislative approval. A bill to change the law has been introduced but was not passed by the Senate.[12] An amended version was passed on 16 October 2008. There have been criticisms that the changes will cause many people to drop their private health insurance, causing a further burden on the public hospital system, and a rise in premiums for those who stay with the private system. Other commentators believe the effect will be minimal.[13]
  • Private Health Insurance Rebate: The government subsidises the premiums for all private health insurance cover, including hospital and ancillary (extras), by 10%, 20% or 30%, depending on age. The Rudd Government announced in May 2009 that as of July 2010, the Rebate would become means-tested, and offered on a sliding scale. While this move (which would have required legislation) was defeated in the Senate at the time, in early 2011 the Gillard Government announced plans to reintroduce the legislation after the Opposition loses the balance of power in the Senate. The ALP and Greens have long been against the rebate, referring to it as "middle-class welfare".[14]

Canada

As per the Constitution of Canada, health care is mainly a provincial government responsibility in Canada (the main exceptions being federal government responsibility for services provided to aboriginal peoples covered by treaties, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the armed forces, and Members of Parliament). Consequently, each province administers its own health insurance program. The federal government influences health insurance by virtue of its fiscal powers – it transfers cash and tax points to the provinces to help cover the costs of the universal health insurance programs. Under the Canada Health Act, the federal government mandates and enforces the requirement that all people have free access to what are termed "medically necessary services," defined primarily as care delivered by physicians or in hospitals, and the nursing component of long-term residential care. If provinces allow doctors or institutions to charge patients for medically necessary services, the federal government reduces its payments to the provinces by the amount of the prohibited charges. Collectively, the public provincial health insurance systems in Canada are frequently referred to as Medicare.[15] This public insurance is tax-funded out of general government revenues, although British Columbia and Ontario levy a mandatory premium with flat rates for individuals and families to generate additional revenues - in essence, a surtax. Private health insurance is allowed, but in six provincial governments only for services that the public health plans do not cover (for example, semi-private or private rooms in hospitals and prescription drug plans). Four provinces allow insurance for services also mandated by the Canada Health Act, but in practice there is no market for it. All Canadians are free to use private insurance for elective medical services such as laser vision correction surgery, cosmetic surgery, and other non-basic medical procedures. Some 65% of Canadians have some form of supplementary private health insurance; many of them receive it through their employers.[16] Private-sector services not paid for by the government account for nearly 30 percent of total health care spending.[17]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled, in Chaoulli v. Quebec, that the province's prohibition on private insurance for health care already insured by the provincial plan violated the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and in particular the sections dealing with the right to life and security, if there were unacceptably long wait times for treatment, as was alleged in this case. The ruling has not changed the overall pattern of health insurance across Canada, but has spurred on attempts to tackle the core issues of supply and demand and the impact of wait times.[18]

France

The national system of health insurance was instituted in 1945, just after the end of the Second World War. It was a compromise between Gaullist and Communist representatives in the French parliament. The Conservative Gaullists were opposed to a state-run healthcare system, while the Communists were supportive of a complete nationalisation of health care along a British Beveridge model.

The resulting programme is profession-based: all people working are required to pay a portion of their income to a not-for-profit health insurance fund, which mutualises the risk of illness, and which reimburses medical expenses at varying rates. Children and spouses of insured people are eligible for benefits, as well. Each fund is free to manage its own budget, and used to reimburse medical expenses at the rate it saw fit, however following a number of reforms in recent years, the majority of funds provide the same level of reimbursement and benefits.

The government has two responsibilities in this system.

  • The first government responsibility is the fixing of the rate at which medical expenses should be negotiated, and it does so in two ways: The Ministry of Health directly negotiates prices of medicine with the manufacturers, based on the average price of sale observed in neighboring countries. A board of doctors and experts decides if the medicine provides a valuable enough medical benefit to be reimbursed (note that most medicine is reimbursed, including homeopathy). In parallel, the government fixes the reimbursement rate for medical services: this means that a doctor is free to charge the fee that he wishes for a consultation or an examination, but the social security system will only reimburse it at a pre-set rate. These tariffs are set annually through negotiation with doctors' representative organisations.
  • The second government responsibility is oversight of the health-insurance funds, to ensure that they are correctly managing the sums they receive, and to ensure oversight of the public hospital network.

Today, this system is more or less intact. All citizens and legal foreign residents of France are covered by one of these mandatory programs, which continue to be funded by worker participation. However, since 1945, a number of major changes have been introduced. Firstly, the different health care funds (there are five: General, Independent, Agricultural, Student, Public Servants) now all reimburse at the same rate. Secondly, since 2000, the government now provides health care to those who are not covered by a mandatory regime (those who have never worked and who are not students, meaning the very rich or the very poor). This regime, unlike the worker-financed ones, is financed via general taxation and reimburses at a higher rate than the profession-based system for those who cannot afford to make up the difference. Finally, to counter the rise in health care costs, the government has installed two plans, (in 2004 and 2006), which require insured people to declare a referring doctor in order to be fully reimbursed for specialist visits, and which installed a mandatory co-pay of €1 for a doctor visit, €0.50 for each box of medicine prescribed, and a fee of €16–18 per day for hospital stays and for expensive procedures.

An important element of the French insurance system is solidarity: the more ill a person becomes, the less the person pays. This means that for people with serious or chronic illnesses, the insurance system reimburses them 100% of expenses, and waives their co-pay charges.

Finally, for fees that the mandatory system does not cover, there is a large range of private complementary insurance plans available. The market for these programs is very competitive, and often subsidised by the employer, which means that premiums are usually modest. 85% of French people benefit from complementary private health insurance.[19]

Germany

Germany has the world's oldest national social health insurance system,[20] with origins dating back to Otto von Bismarck's Sickness Insurance Law of 1883.[21][22]

Beginning with 10% of blue-collar workers in 1885, mandatory insurance has expanded; in 2009, insurance was made mandatory on all citizens, with private health insurance for the self-employed or above an income threshold.[23][24] As of 2016, 85% of the population is covered by the compulsory Statutory Health Insurance (SHI)[25] (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV), with the remainder covered by private insurance (Private Krankenversicherung or PKV) Germany's health care system was 77% government-funded and 23% privately funded as of 2004.[26] While public health insurance contributions are based on the individual's income, private health insurance contributions are based on the individual's age and health condition.[23][27]

Reimbursement is on a fee-for-service basis, but the number of physicians allowed to accept Statutory Health Insurance in a given locale is regulated by the government and professional societies.

Co-payments were introduced in the 1980s in an attempt to prevent over utilization. The average length of hospital stay in Germany has decreased in recent years from 14 days to 9 days, still considerably longer than average stays in the United States (5 to 6 days).[28][29] Part of the difference is that the chief consideration for hospital reimbursement is the number of hospital days as opposed to procedures or diagnosis. Drug costs have increased substantially, rising nearly 60% from 1991 through 2005. Despite attempts to contain costs, overall health care expenditures rose to 10.7% of GDP in 2005, comparable to other western European nations, but substantially less than that spent in the U.S. (nearly 16% of GDP).[30]

Germans are offered three kinds of social security insurance dealing with the physical status of a person and which are co-financed by employer and employee: health insurance, accident insurance, and long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance (Gesetzliche Pflegeversicherung) emerged in 1994, but it is not mandatory.[24] Accident insurance (gesetzliche Unfallversicherung) is covered by the employer and basically covers all risks for commuting to work and at the workplace.

Japan

There are two major types of insurance programs available in Japan – Employees Health Insurance (健康保険 Kenkō-Hoken), and National Health Insurance (国民健康保険 Kokumin-Kenkō-Hoken). National Health insurance is designed for people who are not eligible to be members of any employment-based health insurance program. Although private health insurance is also available, all Japanese citizens, permanent residents, and non-Japanese with a visa lasting one year or longer are required to be enrolled in either National Health Insurance or Employees Health Insurance.

Netherlands

In 2006, a new system of health insurance came into force in the Netherlands. This new system avoids the two pitfalls of adverse selection and moral hazard associated with traditional forms of health insurance by using a combination of regulation and an insurance equalization pool. Moral hazard is avoided by mandating that insurance companies provide at least one policy which meets a government set minimum standard level of coverage, and all adult residents are obliged by law to purchase this coverage from an insurance company of their choice. All insurance companies receive funds from the equalization pool to help cover the cost of this government-mandated coverage. This pool is run by a regulator which collects salary-based contributions from employers, which make up about 50% of all health care funding, and funding from the government to cover people who cannot afford health care, which makes up an additional 5%.[31]

The remaining 45% of health care funding comes from insurance premiums paid by the public, for which companies compete on price, though the variation between the various competing insurers is only about 5%. However, insurance companies are free to sell additional policies to provide coverage beyond the national minimum. These policies do not receive funding from the equalization pool, but cover additional treatments, such as dental procedures and physiotherapy, which are not paid for by the mandatory policy.

Funding from the equalization pool is distributed to insurance companies for each person they insure under the required policy. However, high-risk individuals get more from the pool, and low-income persons and children under 18 have their insurance paid for entirely. Because of this, insurance companies no longer find insuring high risk individuals an unappealing proposition, avoiding the potential problem of adverse selection.

Insurance companies are not allowed to have co-payments, caps, or deductibles, or to deny coverage to any person applying for a policy, or to charge anything other than their nationally set and published standard premiums. Therefore, every person buying insurance will pay the same price as everyone else buying the same policy, and every person will get at least the minimum level of coverage.

New Zealand

Since 1974, New Zealand has had a system of universal no-fault health insurance for personal injuries through the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). The ACC scheme covers most of the costs of related to treatment of injuries acquired in New Zealand (including overseas visitors) regardless of how the injury occurred, and also covers lost income (at 80 percent of the employee's pre-injury income) and costs related to long-term rehabilitation, such as home and vehicle modifications for those seriously injured. Funding from the scheme comes from a combination of levies on employers' payroll (for work injuries), levies on an employee's taxable income (for non-work injuries to salary earners), levies on vehicle licensing fees and petrol (for motor vehicle accidents), and funds from the general taxation pool (for non-work injuries to children, senior citizens, unemployed people, overseas visitors, etc.)

Rwanda

Rwanda is one of a handful of low income countries that has implemented community-based health insurance schemes in order to reduce the financial barriers that prevent poor people from seeking and receiving needed health services. This scheme has helped reach 90% of the country's population with health care coverage.[32][33]

Switzerland

Healthcare in Switzerland is universal[34] and is regulated by the Swiss Federal Law on Health Insurance. Health insurance is compulsory for all persons residing in Switzerland (within three months of taking up residence or being born in the country).[35][36] It is therefore the same throughout the country and avoids double standards in healthcare. Insurers are required to offer this basic insurance to everyone, regardless of age or medical condition. They are not allowed to make a profit off this basic insurance, but can on supplemental plans.[34]

The universal compulsory coverage provides for treatment in case of illness or accident and pregnancy. Health insurance covers the costs of medical treatment, medication and hospitalization of the insured. However, the insured person pays part of the costs up to a maximum, which can vary based on the individually chosen plan, premiums are then adjusted accordingly. The whole healthcare system is geared towards to the general goals of enhancing general public health and reducing costs while encouraging individual responsibility.

The Swiss healthcare system is a combination of public, subsidised private and totally private systems. Insurance premiums vary from insurance company to company, the excess level individually chosen (franchise), the place of residence of the insured person and the degree of supplementary benefit coverage chosen (complementary medicine, routine dental care, semi-private or private ward hospitalisation, etc.).

The insured person has full freedom of choice among the approximately 60 recognised healthcare providers competent to treat their condition (in their region) on the understanding that the costs are covered by the insurance up to the level of the official tariff. There is freedom of choice when selecting an insurance company to which one pays a premium, usually on a monthly basis. The insured person pays the insurance premium for the basic plan up to 8% of their personal income. If a premium is higher than this, the government gives the insured person a cash subsidy to pay for any additional premium.

The compulsory insurance can be supplemented by private "complementary" insurance policies that allow for coverage of some of the treatment categories not covered by the basic insurance or to improve the standard of room and service in case of hospitalisation. This can include complementary medicine, routine dental treatment and private ward hospitalisation, which are not covered by the compulsory insurance.

As far as the compulsory health insurance is concerned, the insurance companies cannot set any conditions relating to age, sex or state of health for coverage. Although the level of premium can vary from one company to another, they must be identical within the same company for all insured persons of the same age group and region, regardless of sex or state of health. This does not apply to complementary insurance, where premiums are risk-based.

Switzerland has an infant mortality rate of about 3.6 out of 1,000. The general life expectancy in 2012 was for men 80.5 years compared to 84.7 years for women.[37] These are the world's best figures.[38]

United Kingdom

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) is a publicly funded healthcare system that provides coverage to everyone normally resident in the UK. It is not strictly an insurance system because (a) there are no premiums collected, (b) costs are not charged at the patient level and (c) costs are not pre-paid from a pool. However, it does achieve the main aim of insurance which is to spread financial risk arising from ill-health. The costs of running the NHS (est. £104 billion in 2007-8)[39] are met directly from general taxation. The NHS provides the majority of health care in the UK, including primary care, in-patient care, long-term health care, ophthalmology, and dentistry.

Private health care has continued parallel to the NHS, paid for largely by private insurance, but it is used by less than 8% of the population, and generally as a top-up to NHS services. There are many treatments that the private sector does not provide. For example, health insurance on pregnancy is generally not covered or covered with restricting clauses. Typical exclusions for Bupa schemes (and many other insurers) include:

ageing, menopause and puberty; AIDS/HIV; allergies or allergic disorders; birth control, conception, sexual problems and sex changes; chronic conditions; complications from excluded or restricted conditions/ treatment; convalescence, rehabilitation and general nursing care ; cosmetic, reconstructive or weight loss treatment; deafness; dental/oral treatment (such as fillings, gum disease, jaw shrinkage, etc); dialysis; drugs and dressings for out-patient or take-home use† ; experimental drugs and treatment; eyesight; HRT and bone densitometry; learning difficulties, behavioural and developmental problems; overseas treatment and repatriation; physical aids and devices; pre-existing or special conditions; pregnancy and childbirth; screening and preventive treatment; sleep problems and disorders; speech disorders; temporary relief of symptoms.[40] († = except in exceptional circumstances)

There are a number of other companies in the United Kingdom which include, among others, ACE Limited, AXA, Aviva, Bupa, Groupama Healthcare, WPA and PruHealth. Similar exclusions apply, depending on the policy which is purchased.

In 2009, the main representative body of British Medical physicians, the British Medical Association, adopted a policy statement expressing concerns about developments in the health insurance market in the UK. In its Annual Representative Meeting which had been agreed earlier by the Consultants Policy Group (i.e. Senior physicians) stating that the BMA was "extremely concerned that the policies of some private healthcare insurance companies are preventing or restricting patients exercising choice about (i) the consultants who treat them; (ii) the hospital at which they are treated; (iii) making top up payments to cover any gap between the funding provided by their insurance company and the cost of their chosen private treatment." It went in to "call on the BMA to publicise these concerns so that patients are fully informed when making choices about private healthcare insurance."[41] The practice of insurance companies deciding which consultant a patient may see as opposed to GPs or patients is referred to as Open Referral.[42] The NHS offers patients a choice of hospitals and consultants and does not charge for its services.

The private sector has been used to increase NHS capacity despite a large proportion of the British public opposing such involvement.[43] According to the World Health Organization, government funding covered 86% of overall health care expenditures in the UK as of 2004, with private expenditures covering the remaining 14%.[26]

Nearly one in three patients receiving NHS hospital treatment is privately insured and could have the cost paid for by their insurer. Some private schemes provide cash payments to patients who opt for NHS treatment, to deter use of private facilities. A report, by private health analysts Laing and Buisson, in November 2012, estimated that more than 250,000 operations were performed on patients with private medical insurance each year at a cost of £359 million. In addition, £609 million was spent on emergency medical or surgical treatment. Private medical insurance does not normally cover emergency treatment but subsequent recovery could be paid for if the patient were moved into a private patient unit.[44]

United States

Short Term Health Insurance

On the 1st of August, 2018 the DHHS issued a final rule which made federal changes to Short-Term, Limited-Duration Health Insurance (STLDI) which lengthened the maximum contract term to 364 days and renewal for up to 36 months.[45][46] This new rule, in combination with the expiration of the penalty for the Individual Mandate of the Affordable Care Act,[47] has been the subject of independent analysis.[48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55]

The United States health care system relies heavily on private health insurance, which is the primary source of coverage for most Americans. As of 2012 about 61% of Americans had private health insurance according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[56] The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that in 2011, private insurance was billed for 12.2 million U.S. inpatient hospital stays and incurred approximately $112.5 billion in aggregate inpatient hospital costs (29% of the total national aggregate costs).[57] Public programs provide the primary source of coverage for most senior citizens and for low-income children and families who meet certain eligibility requirements. The primary public programs are Medicare, a federal social insurance program for seniors and certain disabled individuals; and Medicaid, funded jointly by the federal government and states but administered at the state level, which covers certain very low income children and their families. Together, Medicare and Medicaid accounted for approximately 63 percent of the national inpatient hospital costs in 2011.[57] SCHIP is a federal-state partnership that serves certain children and families who do not qualify for Medicaid but who cannot afford private coverage. Other public programs include military health benefits provided through TRICARE and the Veterans Health Administration and benefits provided through the Indian Health Service. Some states have additional programs for low-income individuals.[58]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, health advocacy companies began to appear to help patients deal with the complexities of the healthcare system. The complexity of the healthcare system has resulted in a variety of problems for the American public. A study found that 62 percent of persons declaring bankruptcy in 2007 had unpaid medical expenses of $1000 or more, and in 92% of these cases the medical debts exceeded $5000. Nearly 80 percent who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance.[59] The Medicare and Medicaid programs were estimated to soon account for 50 percent of all national health spending.[60] These factors and many others fueled interest in an overhaul of the health care system in the United States. In 2010 President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This Act includes an 'individual mandate' that every American must have medical insurance (or pay a fine). Health policy experts such as David Cutler and Jonathan Gruber, as well as the American medical insurance lobby group America's Health Insurance Plans, argued this provision was required in order to provide "guaranteed issue" and a "community rating," which address unpopular features of America's health insurance system such as premium weightings, exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and the pre-screening of insurance applicants. During 26–28 March, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the validity of the Act. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was determined to be constitutional on 28 June 2012. The Supreme Court determined that Congress had the authority to apply the individual mandate within its taxing powers.[61]

History and evolution

In the late 19th century, "accident insurance" began to be available, which operated much like modern disability insurance.[62][63] This payment model continued until the start of the 20th century in some jurisdictions (like California), where all laws regulating health insurance actually referred to disability insurance.[64]

Accident insurance was first offered in the United States by the Franklin Health Assurance Company of Massachusetts. This firm, founded in 1850, offered insurance against injuries arising from railroad and steamboat accidents. Sixty organizations were offering accident insurance in the U.S. by 1866, but the industry consolidated rapidly soon thereafter. While there were earlier experiments, the origins of sickness coverage in the U.S. effectively date from 1890. The first employer-sponsored group disability policy was issued in 1911.[65]

Before the development of medical expense insurance, patients were expected to pay health care costs out of their own pockets, under what is known as the fee-for-service business model. During the middle-to-late 20th century, traditional disability insurance evolved into modern health insurance programs. One major obstacle to this development was that early forms of comprehensive health insurance were enjoined by courts for violating the traditional ban on corporate practice of the professions by for-profit corporations.[66] State legislatures had to intervene and expressly legalize health insurance as an exception to that traditional rule. Today, most comprehensive private health insurance programs cover the cost of routine, preventive, and emergency health care procedures, and most prescription drugs (but this is not always the case).

Hospital and medical expense policies were introduced during the first half of the 20th century. During the 1920s, individual hospitals began offering services to individuals on a pre-paid basis, eventually leading to the development of Blue Cross organizations.[65] The predecessors of today's Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) originated beginning in 1929, through the 1930s and on during World War II.[67][68]

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) regulated the operation of a health benefit plan if an employer chooses to establish one, which is not required. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) gives an ex-employee the right to continue coverage under an employer-sponsored group health benefit plan.

Through the 1990s, managed care insurance schemes including health maintenance organizations (HMO), preferred provider organizations, or point of service plans grew from about 25% US employees with employer-sponsored coverage to the vast majority.[69] With managed care, insurers use various techniques to address costs and improve quality, including negotiation of prices ("in-network" providers), utilization management, and requirements for quality assurance such as being accredited by accreditation schemes such as the Joint Commission and the American Accreditation Healthcare Commission.[70]

Employers and employees may have some choice in the details of plans, including health savings accounts, deductible, and coinsurance. As of 2015, a trend has emerged for employers to offer high-deductible plans, called consumer-driven healthcare plans which place more costs on employees; some employers will offer multiple plans to their employees.[71]

Russia

See also

References

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    Carrin, Guy; James, Chris (January 2005). "Social health insurance: Key factors affecting the transition towards universal coverage" (PDF). International Social Security Review. 58 (1): 45–64. doi:10.1111/j.1468-246x.2005.00209.x. Retrieved 10 March 2013. Initially the health insurance law of 1883 covered blue-collar workers in selected industries, craftspeople and other selected professionals.6 It is estimated that this law brought health insurance coverage up from 5 to 10 per cent of the total population.
    Bärnighausen, Till; Sauerborn, Rainer (May 2002). "One hundred and eighteen years of the German health insurance system: are there any lessons for middle- and low income countries?" (PDF). Social Science & Medicine. 54 (10): 1559–87. doi:10.1016/S0277-9536(01)00137-X. PMID 12061488. Retrieved 10 March 2013. As Germany has the world's oldest SHI [social health insurance] system, it naturally lends itself to historical analyses.
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Apollo Hospitals

Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited is an Indian hospital chain based in Chennai, India. It was founded by Dr Prathap C. Reddy in 1983 as the first corporate health care in India. Several of the group's hospitals have been among the first in India to receive international healthcare accreditation by America-based Joint Commission International (JCI). as well as 13 NABH National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers hospitals.The group has developed services in telemedicine, after starting a pilot project in 2000 in Prathap Reddy's home village.

The organisation signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with Health Education England in April 2016 to provide a large number of doctors to fill vacancies in the English National Health Service.The organisation is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE: 508869) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE: APOLLOHOSP).

Ayushman Bharat Yojana

Ayushman Bharat Yojana or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) or National Health Protection Scheme or ModiCare is a centrally sponsored scheme launched in 2018, under the Ayushman Bharat Mission of MoHFW in India. The scheme aims at making interventions in primary, secondary and tertiary care systems, covering both preventive and promotive health, to address healthcare holistically. It is an umbrella of two major health initiatives namely, Health and Wellness centres and National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS). Indu Bhushan is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Dr Dinesh Arora as the Deputy CEO of Ayushman Bharat Yojana.

Children's Health Insurance Program

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – formerly known as the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) – is a program administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. The program was designed to cover uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.

The program came in response to the failure of comprehensive health care reform proposed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. The legislation to create it was sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy in a partnership with Senator Orrin Hatch, with support coming from First Lady Hillary Clinton during the Clinton administration.

At its creation in 1997, SCHIP was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage for children in the U.S. since Lyndon Johnson established Medicaid in 1965. The statutory authority for CHIP is under title XXI of the Social Security Act.

States are given flexibility in designing their CHIP eligibility requirements and policies within broad federal guidelines. Some states have received authority through waivers of statutory provisions to use CHIP funds to cover the parents of children receiving benefits from both CHIP and Medicaid, pregnant women, and other adults. CHIP covered 7.6 million children during federal fiscal year 2010, and every state has an approved plan. Despite CHIP, the number of uninsured children continued to rise, particularly among families that cannot qualify for CHIP. An October 2007 study by the Vimo Research Group found that 68.7 percent of newly uninsured children were in families whose incomes were 200 percent of the federal poverty level or higher as more employers dropped dependents or dropped coverage altogether due to annual premiums nearly doubling between 2000 and 2006. Vimo cites the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured when it says 48 percent of the newly uninsured were not eligible for any kind of public coverage, and that only those in the lowest income bracket might offset the loss of employer-sponsored coverage with increases in Medicaid and SCHIP. In FY 2008, the program faced funding shortfalls in several states.Two attempts to expand funding for the program were vetoed by President George W. Bush, who argued that such efforts were steps toward federalization of health care, and would "steer the program away from its core purpose of providing insurance for poor children and toward covering children from middle-class families." On February 4, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2009, expanding the healthcare program to an additional 4 million children and pregnant women, including “lawfully residing” immigrants without a waiting period.A 2018 survey of the existing research noted that the availability of "CHIP coverage for children has led to improvements in access to health care and to improvements in health over both the short-run and the long-run."As of February 2018, the CHIP program has been authorized to continue through the year 2027.

Corrigan Oil 200

The Corrigan Oil 200 is a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race that takes place at Michigan International Speedway. The event was started in 1999 and was won by Greg Biffle. In 2001 Michigan did not hold a Truck race because of date conflicts with the CART event which it had been associated. The 2004 race marked the first win for Toyota in a national NASCAR series when Travis Kvapil won for Bang! Racing.

European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card (or EHIC) is issued free of charge and allows anyone who is insured by or covered by a statutory social security scheme of the EEA countries and Switzerland to receive medical treatment in another member state free or at a reduced cost, if that treatment becomes necessary during their visit (for example, due to illness or an accident), or if they have a chronic pre-existing condition which requires care such as kidney dialysis. The term of validity of the card varies according to the issuing country.

The intention of the scheme is to allow people to continue their stay in a country without having to return home for medical care; as such, it does not cover people who have visited a country for the purpose of obtaining medical care, nor does it cover care, such as many types of dental treatment, which can be delayed until the individual returns to his or her home country. The costs not covered by self-liability fees are paid by the issuing country, which is usually the country of residence but may also be the country where one receives the most pension from.It only covers healthcare which is normally covered by a statutory health care system in the visited country, so it does not render travel insurance obsolete.

The card was phased in from 1 June 2004 and throughout 2005, becoming the sole healthcare entitlement document on 1 January 2006. The card is applicable in all French overseas departments (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, and French Guiana) as they are part of the EEA, but not non-EEA dependent territories such as Jersey, the Isle of Man, Aruba, or French Polynesia. However, there are agreements for the use of the EHIC in the Faroe Islands and Greenland, even though they are not in the EEA.

The reason for the existence of this card, is that the right to health care in Europe is based on the country of legal residence, not the country of citizenship. Therefore, a passport is not enough to receive health care. It is however possible that a photo ID document is asked for, since the European Health Insurance Card does not contain a photo.

In some cases, even if a person is covered by the health insurance of an EU country, one is not eligible for a European Health Insurance Card. For instance, in Romania, a person who is currently insured has to have been insured for the previous five years to be eligible. Romania is also the only participating country where not all permanent residents are covered by a health insurance. Due to these reasons the Romanian Roma people typically neither have European insurance cards nor is their costs paid by the country of residence.It replaced the following medical forms:

E110 - For international road hauliers

E111 - For tourists

E119 - For unemployed people/job seekers

E128 - For students and workers in another member state

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA; Pub.L. 104–191, 110 Stat. 1936, enacted August 21, 1996) was enacted by the United States Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. It was created primarily to modernize the flow of healthcare information, stipulate how Personally Identifiable Information maintained by the healthcare and healthcare insurance industries should be protected from fraud and theft, and address limitations on healthcare insurance coverage. It has been known as the Kennedy–Kassebaum Act or Kassebaum–Kennedy Act after two of its leading sponsors. The Act consists of five Titles. Title I of HIPAA protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. Title II of HIPAA, known as the Administrative Simplification (AS) provisions, requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers. Title III sets guidelines for pre-tax medical spending accounts, Title IV sets guidelines for group health plans, and Title V governs company-owned life insurance policies.

Health care in Australia

Health care in Australia is delivered as a mixed system: universal health care (public) and private providers (insurance). Most health care is provided publicly (public hospitals and primary health care such as general practitioners), with the remaining provided by the private sector (private hospitals, allied health care such as physiotherapy and dental).

Medicare is Australia's universal health insurance scheme, which subsidises most medical costs in Australia for all Australian citizens and permanent residents. Several other schemes cover the medical costs in specific circumstances, such as for veterans or indigenous Australians, motor vehicle insurance, and workers' compensation schemes. The current Medicare levy, paid by Australians who earn over a certain income, is 2%. Those who earn more pay an additional surcharge if they do not have private health insurance (Medicare Levy Surcharge).

Medical costs of visitors to Australia may be covered by travel insurance or under a reciprocal health agreement. People who are not covered by the Medicare scheme or wish to be covered for out-of-pocket medical or hospital costs can take out voluntary private health insurance, which is also subsidised by the federal government. In addition to Medicare, there is a separate Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme funded by the federal government, which considerably subsidises a range of prescription medications.

Medicare is financed by a Medicare levy, which is compulsory and administered through the tax system. The federal Minister for Health, currently Greg Hunt, administers national health policy, and state and territory governments administer elements of health care within their jurisdictions, such as the operation of hospitals. The funding model for health care in Australia has seen political polarisation, with governments being crucial in shaping national health care policy.

Health care in the United States

Health care in the United States is provided by many distinct organizations. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by private sector businesses. 58% of US community hospitals are non-profit, 21% are government owned, and 21% are for-profit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States spent $9,403 on health care per capita, and 17.1% on health care as percentage of its GDP in 2014. Healthcare coverage is provided through a combination of private health insurance and public health coverage (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid). The United States does not have a universal healthcare program, unlike other advanced industrialized countries.In 2013, 64% of health spending was paid for by the government, and funded via programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Veterans Health Administration. People aged under 65 acquire insurance via their or a family member's employer, by purchasing health insurance on their own, or are uninsured. Health insurance for public sector employees is primarily provided by the government in its role as employer.The United States life expectancy is 78.6 years at birth, up from 75.2 years in 1990; this ranks 42nd among 224 nations, and 22nd out of the 35 industrialized OECD countries, down from 20th in 1990. In 2016 and 2017 life expectancy in the U.S. dropped for the first time since 1993. Of 17 high-income countries studied by the National Institutes of Health, the United States in 2013 had the highest or near-highest prevalence of obesity, car accidents, infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancies, injuries, and homicides. A 2014 survey of the healthcare systems of 11 developed countries found that the US healthcare system to be the most expensive and worst-performing in terms of health access, efficiency, and equity.Prohibitively high cost is the primary reason Americans have problems accessing health care. Consulting company Gallup recorded that the uninsured rate among U.S. adults was 11.9% for the first quarter of 2015, continuing the decline of the uninsured rate outset by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). At over 27 million, the number of people without health insurance coverage in the United States is one of the primary concerns raised by advocates of health care reform. Lack of health insurance is associated with increased mortality, about sixty thousand preventable deaths per year, depending on the study. A study done at Harvard Medical School with Cambridge Health Alliance showed that nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with a lack of patient health insurance. The study also found that uninsured, working Americans have an approximately 40% higher mortality risk compared to privately insured working Americans.In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) became law, enacting major changes in health insurance. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of most of the law in June 2012 and affirmed insurance exchange subsidies in all states in June 2015.

Health insurance cooperative

A health insurance cooperative is a cooperative entity that has the goal of providing health insurance and is also owned by the people that the organization insures. It is a form of mutual insurance.

Health insurance coverage in the United States

Health insurance coverage in the United States is provided by several public and private sources. During 2016, the U.S. population overall was approximately 325 million, with 53 million people 65 years of age and over, covered by the federal Medicare program. The 272 million non-institutional people under age 65 either obtained their coverage from employer-based (155 million) or non-employer based (90 million) sources, or were uninsured (27 million). Approximately 15 million military personnel received coverage through the Veteran's Administration and Military Health System. During the year 2016, 91.2% of Americans had health insurance coverage. Despite being among the top world economic powers, the US remains the sole industrialized nation in the world without universal health care coverage.Prohibitively high cost is the primary reason Americans give for problems accessing health care. At over 27 million, higher than the entire population of Australia, the number of people without health insurance coverage in the United States is one of the primary concerns raised by advocates of health care reform. Lack of health insurance is associated with increased mortality, in the range 30-90 thousand deaths per year, depending on the study.Multiple surveys indicate the number of uninsured fell between 2013-2016 due to expanded Medicaid eligibility and health insurance exchanges established due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the "ACA" or "Obamacare". According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2012 there were 45.6 million people in the US (14.8% of the under-65 population) who were without health insurance. Following the implementation of major ACA provisions in 2013, this figure fell by 18.3 million or 40%, to 27.3 million by 2016 or 8.6% of the under-65 population.The Census Bureau reported that the number of uninsured persons rose from 27.3 million in 2016 to 28.0 million in 2017. The uninsured rate rose from 8.6% in 2016 to 8.7% in 2017. This was the first increase in the number and rate of uninsured since 2010. Further, the Commonwealth Fund estimated in May 2018 that the number of uninsured increased by 4 million from early 2016 to early 2018. The rate of those uninsured increased from 12.7% in 2016 to 15.5% under their methodology. The impact was greater among lower-income adults, who had a higher uninsured rate than higher-income adults. Regionally, the South and West had higher uninsured rates than the North and East. Further, those 18 states that have not expanded Medicaid had a higher uninsured rate than those that did.The causes of this rate of uninsurance remain a matter of political debate. Nearly half those without insurance cite its cost as the primary factor. Rising insurance costs have contributed to a trend in which fewer employers are offering health insurance, and many employers are managing costs by requiring higher employee contributions. Many of the uninsured are the working poor or are unemployed.

Health insurance in the United States

Health insurance in the United States is any program that helps pay for medical expenses, whether through privately purchased insurance, social insurance, or a social welfare program funded by the government. Synonyms for this usage include "health coverage", "health care coverage", and "health benefits".

In a more technical sense, the term "health insurance "is used to describe any form of insurance providing protection against the costs of medical services. This usage includes private insurance and social insurance programs such as Medicare, which pools resources and spreads the financial risk associated with major medical expenses across the entire population to protect everyone, as well as social welfare programs like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, which both provide assistance to people who cannot afford health coverage.

In addition to medical expense insurance, "health insurance" may also refer to insurance covering disability or long-term nursing or custodial care needs. Different health insurance provides different levels of financial protection and the scope of coverage can vary widely, with more than 40% of insured individuals reporting that their plans do not adequately meet their needs as of 2007.The share of Americans without health insurance has been cut in half since 2013. Many of the reforms instituted by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 were designed to extend health care coverage to those without it; however, high cost growth continues unabated. National health expenditures are projected to grow 4.7% per person per year from 2016 to 2025. Public healthcare spending was 29% of federal mandated spending in 1990 and 35% of it in 2000. It is also projected to be roughly half in 2025.

Health insurance marketplace

In the United States, health insurance marketplaces, also called health exchanges, are organizations in each state through which people can purchase health insurance. People can purchase health insurance that complies with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, known colloquially as "Obamacare") at ACA health exchanges, where they can choose from a range of government-regulated and standardized health care plans offered by the insurers participating in the exchange.

ACA health exchanges were fully certified and operational by January 1, 2014, under federal law. Enrollment in the marketplaces started on October 1, 2013, and continued for six months. As of April 19, 2014, 8.02 million people had signed up through the health insurance marketplaces. An additional 4.8 million joined Medicaid. Enrollment for 2015 began on November 15, 2014 and ended on December 15, 2014.Private non-ACA health care exchanges also exist in many states, responsible for enrolling 3 million people. These exchanges predate the Affordable Care Act and facilitate insurance plans for employees of small and medium size businesses.

Healthcare in Germany

Germany has a universal multi-payer health care system paid for by a combination of statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) officially called "Krankenkasse" (governmental health insurance) and "Private Krankenversicherung" (private health insurance).The turnover of the health sector was about US$368.78 billion (€287.3 billion) in 2010, equivalent to 11.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and about US$4,505 (€3,510) per capita. According to the World Health Organization, Germany's health care system was 77% government-funded and 23% privately funded as of 2004. In 2004 Germany ranked thirtieth in the world in life expectancy (78 years for men). It had a very low infant mortality rate (4.7 per 1,000 live births), and it was tied for eighth place in the number of practicing physicians, at 3.3 per 1,000 persons. In 2001 total spending on health amounted to 10.8 percent of gross domestic product.According to the Euro health consumer index, which placed it in 7th position in its 2015 survey, Germany has long had the most restriction-free and consumer-oriented healthcare system in Europe. Patients are allowed to seek almost any type of care they wish whenever they want it. The governmental health system in Germany is currently keeping a record reserve of more than 18 billion Euros, which makes it one of the healthiest health systems in the world .

Massachusetts health care reform

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed a health care reform law in 2006 with the aim of providing health insurance to nearly all of its residents. The law mandated that nearly every resident of Massachusetts obtain a minimum level of insurance coverage, provided free and subsidized health care insurance for residents earning less than 150% and 300%, respectively, of the federal poverty level (FPL) and mandated employers with more than 10 full-time employees provide healthcare insurance. The law was amended significantly in 2008 and twice in 2010 to make it consistent with the federal Affordable Care Act. Major revisions related to health care industry price controls were passed in August 2012, and the employer mandate was repealed in 2013 in favor of the federal mandate (even though enforcement of the federal mandate was delayed until January 2015). Because Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts at the time, the law has colloquially been called Romneycare, a reference to the nicknaming of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as "Obamacare".Among its many effects, the law established an independent public authority, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, also known as the Massachusetts Health Connector. The Connector acts as an insurance broker to offer free, highly subsidized and full-price private insurance plans to residents, including through its web site. As such it is one of the models of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. The 2006 Massachusetts law successfully covered approximately two-thirds of the state's then-uninsured residents, half via federal-government-paid-for Medicaid expansion (administered by MassHealth) and half via the Connector's free and subsidized network-tiered health care insurance for those not eligible for expanded Medicaid. Relatively few Massachusetts residents used the Connector to buy full-priced insurance.

After implementation of the law, 98% of Massachusetts residents had health coverage. Despite the hopes of legislators, the program did not decrease total spending on healthcare or utilization of emergency medical services for primary care issues.

National health insurance

National health insurance (NHI) – sometimes called statutory health insurance (SHI) – is a system of health insurance that insures a national population against the costs of health care. It may be administered by the public sector, the private sector, or a combination of both. Funding mechanisms vary with the particular program and country. National or Statutory health insurance does not equate to government-run or government-financed health care, but is usually established by national legislation. In some countries, such as Australia's Medicare system, the UK's National Health Service, and the South Korea’s National Health Insurance Corporation contributions to the system are made via general taxation and therefore are not optional even though use of the health system it finances is. In practice, most people paying for NHI will join it. Where the NHI involves a choice of multiple insurance funds, the rates of contributions may vary and the person has to choose which insurance fund to belong to.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), often shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or nicknamed Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system's most significant regulatory overhaul and expansion of coverage since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.The ACA's major provisions came into force in 2014. By 2016, the uninsured share of the population had roughly halved, with estimates ranging from 20 to 24 million additional people covered during 2016. The increased coverage was due, roughly equally, to an expansion of Medicaid eligibility and to major changes to individual insurance markets. Both involved new spending, funded through a combination of new taxes and cuts to Medicare provider rates and Medicare Advantage. Several Congressional Budget Office reports said that overall these provisions reduced the budget deficit, that repealing the ACA would increase the deficit, and that the law reduced income inequality by taxing primarily the top 1% to fund roughly $600 in benefits on average to families in the bottom 40% of the income distribution. The law also enacted a host of delivery system reforms intended to constrain healthcare costs and improve quality. After the law went into effect, increases in overall healthcare spending slowed, including premiums for employer-based insurance plans.The act largely retains the existing structure of Medicare, Medicaid, and the employer market, but individual markets were radically overhauled around a three-legged scheme. Insurers in these markets are made to accept all applicants and charge the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex. To combat resultant adverse selection, the act mandates that individuals buy insurance and insurers cover a list of "essential health benefits". However, a repeal of the individual tax mandate, passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, became effective on January 1, 2019. To help households between 100–400% of the Federal Poverty Line afford these compulsory policies, the law provides insurance premium subsidies. Other individual market changes include health marketplaces and risk adjustment programs.

Since being signed into law in 2010, the PPACA has faced strong political opposition, calls for repeal (from Republicans) and numerous legal challenges; its enactment is considered to be a catalyst for the Tea Party movement. In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled that states could choose not to participate in the ACA's Medicaid expansion, although it upheld the law as a whole. The federal health exchange, HealthCare.gov, faced major technical problems at the beginning of its rollout in 2013. In 2017, a unified Republican government attempted but failed to pass several different partial repeals of the ACA. The law spent several years opposed by a slim plurality of Americans polled, although its provisions were generally more popular than the law as a whole, and the law gained majority support by 2017.

Publicly funded health care

Publicly funded healthcare is a form of health care financing designed to meet the cost of all or most healthcare needs from a publicly managed fund. Usually this is under some form of democratic accountability, the right of access to which are set down in rules applying to the whole population contributing to the fund or receiving benefits from it.

The fund may be a not-for-profit trust that pays out for healthcare according to common rules established by the members or by some other democratic form. In some countries, the fund is controlled directly by the government or by an agency of the government for the benefit of the entire population. That distinguishes it from other forms of private medical insurance, the rights of access to which are subject to contractual obligations between an insurer (or his sponsor) and an insurance company, which seeks to make a profit by managing the flow of funds between funders and providers of health care services.

When taxation is the primary means of financing health care and sometimes with compulsory insurance, all eligible people receive the same level of cover regardless of their financial circumstances or risk factors.

Single-payer healthcare

Single-payer healthcare is a type of universal healthcare financed by taxes that covers the costs of essential healthcare for all residents, with costs covered by a single public system (hence 'single-payer').Single-payer systems may contract for healthcare services from private organizations (as is the case in Canada) or may own and employ healthcare resources and personnel (as is the case in the United Kingdom). "Single-payer" describes the mechanism by which healthcare is paid for by a single public authority, not the type of delivery or for whom physicians work, which may be public, private, or a mix of both.

Universal health care

Universal healthcare (also called universal health coverage, universal coverage, or universal care) is a health care system that provides health care and financial protection to all residents of a particular country or region. It is organized around providing a specified package of benefits to all members of a society with the end goal of providing financial risk protection, improved access to health services, and improved health outcomes.Universal healthcare does not imply coverage for all people for everything, only that all people have access to healthcare. Some universal healthcare systems are government funded, while others are based on a requirement that all citizens purchase private health insurance. Universal healthcare can be determined by three critical dimensions: who is covered, what services are covered, and how much of the cost is covered. It is described by the World Health Organization as a situation where citizens can access health services without incurring financial hardship. The Director General of WHO describes universal health coverage as the “single most powerful concept that public health has to offer” since it unifies “services and delivers them in a comprehensive and integrated way”. One of the goals with universal healthcare is to create a system of protection which provides equality of opportunity for people to enjoy the highest possible level of health.As part of Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations member states have agreed to work toward worldwide universal health coverage by 2030.

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