Private health insurance companies stemmed from the public's need for financial assistance in cases of general medical emergencies. The concept of health insurance is collectivism – it collects each individual's small monetary contributions into a pool which can be used in case of a person / s medical need. There are also some insurance companies who cover long term disabilities and nursing needs. Social security is a form of insurance provided by the government through taxes, which can be used to cover a citizen in a medical situation. Healthcare is a need that each individual needs to have to avoid fatality.
Private health insurance companies originated from the concept of Hugh Chamberlen in the late 1600's, but was never enacted until the 1900's. The first form of insurance came in the nature of accident insurance, which is a lot similar to what we know of today. In the United States, the first accident insurance company was known as the Franklin Health Assurance Company of Massachusetts. The concept of covering sickness in insurance, other than just accidents or sudden disabilities, began in 1866, but was never successfully enacted until the year 1890. As the years progressed, employer-enacted health plans came to effect in the year 1911.
Private health insurance companies did not start until the middle of the 20th century, when private hospitals began offering individual health plans to patients to help them finance expensive medicines. These are the predecessors of what we now know to be HMO's or Health Maintenance Organizations, Blue Cross being one of its original founders. Health care is a big and sensitive issue all over the world, and especially in the United States, with the recent health care reforms from the current president Barack Obama – but that is another topic alike.
Health insurance responsibility and terms are clearly stated on the policy holder's wallet, and is largely based on the premium he or she pays on a monthly basis – not all services are covered, and there are certain limits to the insurance coverage. Still, with all these, one can not stress enough the importance of health plans to an individual and his or her family's health. There are also several types of insurance plans offered by health insurance companies; long term, short term, scheduled, etc., and their prices may vary as well.
There are a lot of top health insurance companies in the US today: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Associated Health Maintenance Organization, Capital Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Allstate, and many others. One thing is for sure, though, with the economy as it is, private health insurance companies will certainly continue to emerge in the coming years.