A mechanism by which money is raised to pay for health services by financial contributions to a fund; the fund then purchases health services from providers for the benefit of those for whom contributions are made or who are otherwise covered by the scheme.
Compulsory health insurance: health insurance under an obligatory scheme by law, usually with contributions that are income-related -also called statutory health insurance.
The obligation may be placed on an employer to pay contributions on behalf of his or her employees. Compulsory insurance is usually administered by public or quasi-public bodies, but it can also be administered by private insurance carriers.
Voluntary health insurance: health insurance which is taken up and paid for at the discretion of individuals (whether directly or via their employers).
Voluntary insurance is usually purchased from private insurance organizations, although in some cases it may also be purchased from public or quasi-public bodies. Besides out-of-pocket expenditure, expenditure for voluntary health insurance is the major component of private health expenditure.
World Health Organization. European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Glossary. 2009.