The International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM)

The International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM) is an international umbrella organisation of federations of health mutuals and health insurance bodies counting with 49 members from 26 countries around Europe, Latin America and Africa and the Middle East.

AIM members are all not-for- profit organisations providing health coverage to around 240 million people, as well as services relating to compulsory and/or supplementary health insurance, some of them also managing health and social insurance services. Our members are either mutuals or health insurance funds. They rely on no shareholders: all surpluses are used to benefit their members and they comply with the principle of solidarity between members. They are:

  • Independent, private legal entities
  • Democratic organisations: each member has one voting right
  • Public or private organisations
  • Governed by representatives of users and social partners


Today AIM reaffirms the validity of its values in front of challenges such as ageing of the population, the
prevalence of chronic diseases, rising healthcare expenditure and changes in lifestyles

Cost-efficient and affordable health systems
Strengthened health mutual benefit societies, recognised as such for their value in social economy
Health protection for all without inequalities

The Beginnings

The mutualist movement gained strength at the second half of the 19 th century, responding to the growing feeling of insecurity in the working class. The steady increase in the wage-earning class, the low pay received by the workers, the workers’ powerlessness to adapt in the face of crises and monetary fluctuations and, finally, the random nature of access to jobs plunged the working class into pauperism. In this situation, however, workers did not want to have to turn to public assistance or charity as destitute people without work were obliged to do. They therefore decided to organise solidarity funds by putting aside a proportion of their salary to help those who succumbed to certain risks: sickness (disability), accidents, old age, death, etc. This mutual aid given to overcome the effects of risks and the funding of this aid through workers’ contributions was to be the cornerstone of social insurance schemes and the funding of social security.
By the end of the century, mutual benefit societies were already regulated by elaborate legislation and had quite a high number of members in several countries. With large national mutualist movements in operation and already working together and an impressive prevailing trend towards the internationalisation of social issues, the scene was set for the first International Mutuality Congress in 1900. Several congresses followed, one of which in Milan in 1906, where the “International Mutuality Federation” was established, AIM’s ancestor.
The two world wars slowed down the socialist movement, which was to be revived in the aftermath of WWII. The International Conference on Mutuality and Social Insurance (CIMAS) grew stronger, answering the European will to strengthen social security.  In 1947, the CIMAS became the International Social Security Association (ISSA).
This change reflected a move away from social insurance to a more general concept of social security and meant, for some mutualists, the unacceptable disappearance of the term “mutuality” from the name of the Association. As a consequence, a separate meeting of the leading mutual fund directors was conveyed. A declaration was drafted, highlighting the role, characteristics and main demands of the mutualist movement and reminding that mutuality had been “the driving force behind the efforts to improve social security”. Additionally, a new organisation was created: the “International Centre for Information on Mutuality” (CMIM), which, at 28 January 1950 General Assembly, became AIM.