Health Reinsurance as a Human Right

forthcoming in Insurance and Human Rights, edited by Margarida Lima Rego and Birgit Kuschke

Rutgers Law School Research Paper

42 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2020 Last revised: 16 Nov 2020

Date Written: May 22, 2020


Health reinsurance as a public policy measure aims to offload the expensive costs of those who are catastrophically ill onto the best risk-bearer, often the state. The benefits ripple out, helping not just those with the highest health costs, but also the broader public by helping to make health coverage more widely affordable and accessible. The health and human rights discourse ought to include the notion that we all enjoy a core health right to state performance of the reinsurance function

First, the features of reinsurance map well onto the features of the right to health specified in the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and the associated General Comments. These texts suggest particular concern for the vulnerable, attention to co-variant risk, promotion of equitable distribution, and state action that ensures the underlying conditions for a strong health system. This book chapter explains how government-sponsored health reinsurance also addresses these same concerns and is instrumental in creating stable background conditions for the organization of broad health provision.

I further argue that understanding the core right to health as including reinsurance helps soften certain tensions that afflict the concept of “the minimum core.” Reinsurance helps bridge 1] the tension between context sensitivity and universalizability, and 2) the tension between individually claimable rights and broader systemic duties. I illustrate these advantages using the experiences that various countries around the world have had with health reinsurance as a policy.

Keywords: Reinsurance, Insurance, Human Rights, Right to Health, Health Financing, Comparative Health Systems

JEL Classification: I13, I18

Suggested Citation

Ho, Christina S., Health Reinsurance as a Human Right (May 22, 2020). forthcoming in Insurance and Human Rights, edited by Margarida Lima Rego and Birgit Kuschke , Rutgers Law School Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Christina S. Ho (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

Newark, NJ
United States

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