Are there any responsa in the literature that either encourage or require people to maintain health insurance, perhaps as a fulfillment of the obligation to guard one's health, or in line with any other commandments or Torah principles? Of course, this would mainly be relevant in a society in which expensive and effective healthcare is available for purchase (i.e. modern times) and not automatically, universally paid for by the government (e.g. in the United States, and to varying degrees, many other countries).

(Hat tip for the question to William Friedman.)

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Is a person obligated to purchase life insurance?
Does the existence of insurance affect end-of-life Halacha?

  • 1
    Seems like a "borderline question". There is a Torah obligation to take care of your health as best as possible. IMO, if you can't afford to pay for your own health care on your own, but having insurance helps make the healthcare affordable, then, it seems that you would be obligated. Question is, what if you are too poor to pay for insurance? In that case, I think doctors and hospitals are obligated to care for you gratis. But if you can afford to pay out of pocket, I don't see any obligation to buy insurance.
    – DanF
    Apr 17, 2015 at 16:33
  • If there is an obligation to purchase health insurance, it would seem more likely to come from the idea of לוה רשע ולא ישלם, much more than from health care access. Unless you are very poor and being given the health insurance, health insurance is all about financial protection.
    – Yishai
    Apr 17, 2015 at 17:02
  • @Yishai, that's true in an environment in which all effective healthcare measures are available for everyone who needs them, regardless of ability to pay. This is not the case in the United States; I'm not sure about other countries. It is definitely possible, in the US, to need or be able to benefit from a therapeutic measure and to have no access to that measure if you don't have the ability to pay for it.
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 17, 2015 at 17:07
  • @IsaacMoses, it is also definitely possible to be able to benefit from a therapeutic measure and to have no access to it because insurance won't cover it. In fact, by that argument, it might be ossur to accept medicare, since if medicare refuses the procedure, no medicare-accepting doctor can do the procedure for money.
    – Yishai
    Apr 17, 2015 at 17:13
  • @Yishai, there's no point in arguing about the details of the metziut. My only point is that it's plausible, at least in the US, to expect that purchasing insurance increases one's access to theraputic measures, which could put such purchase into the the category of preserving health and not just a monetary matter. (But anyway, in the case in your argument, maintaining insurance doesn't decrease one's access, since one has the roughly same ability to pay out-of-pocket that one would have had without the insurance.)
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 17, 2015 at 17:19


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