Health insurance provides you with a financial safety net to cover some or all of your medical expenses. In exchange, you pay a monthly premium.
Most plans require you to meet a deductible before your insurer begins paying out claims, while copays or coinsurance may also apply. Managed care plans like HMOs and point-of-service (POS) require choosing a primary doctor who will oversee your care while also referring you to specialists as needed.
What is health insurance?
Health insurance is a system for financing medical expenses. It works on the principle of pooling risk through advance payments of premiums or taxes to an organization to cover individual healthcare services costs incurred. Private or public plans may provide it – either via their employer, through government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid (including Children’s Health Insurance Program ) or bought individually.
Health plans typically cover a range of healthcare expenses, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medication and tests. Your costs depend on which plan you have; for instance they could include deductibles, copays or coinsurance – with certain plans offering significant tax advantages such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
Watch this short video from Kaiser Family Foundation to gain more understanding about health insurance. It outlines key concepts like premiums, deductibles and provider networks in an easily-digestible format.
What are the benefits of health insurance?
Health insurance provides an essential financial safety net for people who would otherwise struggle to cover medical care costs themselves. By pooling risk across many people and paying a small premium upfront for protection against potentially financially disruptive medical expenses, this coverage gives people who might otherwise go without medical coverage an affordable means of managing these costs more easily.
There are various avenues available to you for purchasing health insurance, from employer plans to individual policies. When making this important decision for yourself or your family, take time to explore all available options before making your choice.
Your choice of health plan should depend on both your needs and budget. Some plans are more comprehensive than others, with costs fluctuating wildly; you should also keep an eye out for out-of-pocket responsibilities like deductibles and copays as these could impact coverage; you can find that information in your policy’s summary of benefits or contract. Lastly, coverage depends on which doctor or facility is in or outside the network you select.
How do I get health insurance?
Health insurance can help cover the expenses associated with medical care, such as doctor visits, hospital stays and prescription drugs. It also covers preventive services that are essential for overall wellness. Healthcare costs can quickly add up so it’s essential that you fully explore all available coverage options to find what suits you best.
Many people obtain health insurance through their employer. If that isn’t an option for you, individual policies or the Health Insurance Marketplace (also called an exchange) offer affordable health coverage options that could even qualify you for financial aid to reduce premium costs through this exchange.
Many health plans offer networks of doctors, hospitals and other providers who work together with your plan to give you the best value. When visiting providers outside the network, typically costs will increase substantially; additionally, many plans contain out-of-pocket maximums which set limits on annual out-of-pocket spending on covered medical expenses.
How do I choose a health insurance plan?
When choosing a health insurance plan, it’s essential to carefully consider both current and future healthcare needs, budget constraints and possible gaps in coverage that might enable cost savings in premium costs.
Things to keep in mind include your current health conditions, treatments/surgeries/services that interest you, frequency of visits to doctors and whether or not their preferred providers are in-network; otherwise you will incur higher out-of-pocket payments.
Other important expenses to keep in mind are your deductible, copays and coinsurance costs – the federal marketplace offers snapshots of this information for each plan while many state marketplaces also do so. Also important is understanding your out-of-pocket maximum, which is the maximum amount your plan will cover per year after meeting its deductible. Finally, be mindful of any sublimits which might apply such as room rent for ICU care, AYUSH coverage or domiciliary treatment and choose one without them.