Health policies and data

OECD Study on Private Health Insurance



‌Key publications from the OECD study on Private Health Insurance (2001-2004)

The OECD completed a three-year study on private health insurance in 2004. The following reports were released as part of the study:

More information about the study is available below.

Other OECD publications related to private health insurance

Selected presentations



The OECD Study on Private Health Insurance, one component of the OECD Health Project, was completed between 2001 and 2004. The work was carried out jointly by the Health Policy Unit of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs and the Insurance Committee of the Directorate for Fiscal and Financial Affairs. The final report, Private Health Insurance in OECD Countries, was released in November 2004.

Aims and key policy questions

The study assesses the role that private health insurance (PHI) plays in OECD member countries. The main aims of the study were:

  • To identify policy issues arising from the interdependence of private health insurance with public health coverage schemes;
  • To assess mixed models of private/public health insurance against health policy objectives;
  • To assess the impact of governmental regulation on health systems performance;
  • To analyse the challenges and benefits related to private health insurance in different insurance mixes, and the preconditions for the development of an efficient and equitable health insurance market.

The main policy questions addressed have included:

  • What is the impact of PHI markets and different insurance mixes on equity in the health system?
  • What risks and opportunities does PHI pose to cost pressures on health systems?
  • How does PHI improve responsiveness of health systems?
  • What regulatory mechanisms and financial incentives can deliver equity, efficiency, and responsiveness from different insurance mixes and PHI markets?

Project components

The role of private health insurance can vary considerably across OECD countries, due to the historical, political and market factors that have influenced the development of health systems. In order to collect information and data on PHI, the study has:

  • Developed a Proposal for A Taxonomy of Health Insurance of private health insurance schemes in OECD countries, which has set a framework for collecting data on various types of health insurance schemes.
  • Developed two survey instruments: a) On statistics, which gathered data on private health insurance markets, such as premiums, claims, population coverage and share of total health expenditure; b) On regulations, which gathered detailed information on governmental interventions towards PHI.
  • Collected an extensive literature.

Country case studies have also been completed on selective OECD countries where PHI has a prominent role in terms of health policies and health financing. Countries examined have included Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands. Analyses of PHI in France and of the potential role for PHI in Slovakia have also been carried out. Case studies have been released as Health Working Papers.





National sites








United States



For more information on the study, contact Francesca Colombo (


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