Social insurance

Social insurance

Social insurance is any government-sponsored program with the following four characteristics:
* the benefits, eligibility requirements and other aspects of the program are defined by statute;
* explicit provision is made to account for the income and expenses (often through a trust fund);
* it is funded by taxes or premiums paid by (or on behalf of) participants (although additional sources of funding may be provided as well); and
* the program serves a defined population, and participation is either compulsory or the program is heavily enough subsidized that most eligible individuals choose to participate. [ "Social Insurance"] , Actuarial Standard of Practice No. 32, Actuarial Standards Board, January 1998.] Social insurance has also been defined as a program where risks are transferred to and pooled by an organization, often governmental, that is legally required to provide certain benefits.Margaret E. Lynch, Editor, "Health Insurance Terminology", Health Insurance Association of America, 1992, ISBN 1-879143-13-5.]

In the U.S., programs that meet these definitions include Social Security, Medicare, the PBGC program, the railroad retirement program and state-sponsored unemployment insurance programs. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is also a social insurance program.

Similarities to private insurance

Typical similarities between social insurance programs and private insurance programs include:
* Wide pooling of risks;
* Specific definitions of the benefits provided;
* Specific definitions of eligibility rules and the amount of coverage provided;
* Specific premium, contribution or tax rates required to meet the expected costs of the system.Robert J. Myers, "Social Security", Third Edition, Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1985, ISBN 0-256-03307-2.]

Differences from private insurance

Typical differences between private insurance programs and social insurance programs include:
*"Equity versus Adequacy": Private insurance programs are generally designed with greater emphasis on equity between individual purchasers of coverage, while social insurance programs generally place a greater emphasis on the social adequacy of benefits for all participants.
*"Voluntary versus Mandatory Participation": Participation in private insurance programs is often voluntary, and where the purchase of insurance is mandatory, individuals usually have a choice of insurers. Participation in social insurance programs is generally mandatory, and where participation is voluntary, the cost is heavily enough subsidized to ensure essentially universal participation.
*"Contractual versus Statutory Rights": The right to benefits in a private insurance program is contractual, based on an insurance contract. The insurer generally does not have a unilateral right to change or terminate coverage before the end of the contract period (except in such cases as non-payment of premiums). Social insurance programs are not generally based on a contract, but rather on a statute, and the right to benefits is thus statutory rather than contractual. The provisions of the program can be changed if the statute is modified.
*"Funding": Individually purchased private insurance generally must be fully funded. Full funding is a desirable goal for private pension plans as well, but is often not achieved. Social insurance programs are often not fully funded, and some argue that full funding is not economically desirable.

See also

*Generational accounting
*Social Insurance Number (Canada)
*Social security
*Social Security (United States)
*Social Security (Sweden)
*Social Security (Australia)
*Social Security Disability Insurance (United States)
*Social health insurance
*Social Protection
*Social safety net
*Social welfare provision
*Welfare state


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • social insurance — ➔ insurance * * * social insurance UK US noun [U] ► GOVERNMENT, ECONOMICS money that employers and employees pay to the government so that people receive money when they are not able to work because of age, illness, etc.: »In most countries,… …   Financial and business terms

  • social insurance — n: insurance of the individual against certain hazards (as unemployment, old age, and disability) that is undertaken, facilitated, or enforced by government as a social policy Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • social insurance — n. any insurance program undertaken by a government to provide income or payments to persons who are unemployed, disabled, elderly, etc …   English World dictionary

  • social insurance — any of various forms of insurance in which a government is an insurer, esp. such insurance that provides assistance to disabled or unemployed workers and to aged persons. [1915 20] * * * Compulsory public insurance program that protects against… …   Universalium

  • social insurance — noun Social insurance is used before these nouns: ↑system …   Collocations dictionary

  • social insurance — social security, government fund for social welfare …   English contemporary dictionary

  • social insurance — noun government provision for unemployed, injured, or aged people; financed by contributions from employers and employees as well as by government revenue • Hypernyms: ↑social welfare, ↑welfare, ↑public assistance • Hyponyms: ↑national insurance …   Useful english dictionary

  • social insurance — so′cial insur′ance n. gov any of various forms of insurance provided by a government, as unemployment insurance • Etymology: 1915–20 …   From formal English to slang

  • social insurance — See insurance …   Black's law dictionary

  • social insurance — Those forms of insurance intended primarily to enable an old or disabled person to live without resort to a public welfare agency …   Ballentine's law dictionary

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