Health insurance, like other forms of insurance, is a form of collectivism by means of which people collectively pool their risk, in this case the risk of incurring medical expenses. The collective is usually publicly owned or else is organized on a non-profit basis for the members of the pool, though in some countries health insurance pools may also be managed by for-profit companies. It is sometimes used more broadly to include insurance covering disability or long-term nursing or custodial care needs. It may be provided universally through government as a feature of social solidarity, as is typical in many industrial countries, or as form of government charity such as the United States Medicaid prgram. It may be purchased privately on a group basis (e.g., by a firm to cover its employees) or purchased by an individual for himself or his family. In each case, the covered groups or individuals pay a fee, premium, or tax, to help protect themselves from health care expenses.
By estimating the overall risk of health care expenses, a routine finance structure (such as a monthly premium or payroll tax) can be developed, ensuring that money is available to pay for the health care benefits specified in the insurance agreement. The benefit is administered by a central organization such as a government agency, private business, or not-for-profit entity.