Health insurance: you hear about it everywhere – on the news, from your parents and from your teachers. But do you really know what it is?
Health insurance is a type of insurance that helps pay for your medical expenses. You pay a monthly payment to the health insurance company, and they pay doctors and hospitals for most of the cost of any health care that you receive.
How does health insurance work?
Every month, you pay the health insurance company to stay enrolled in your plan. This is called your premium. You also must some pay out-of-pocket costs when seeing the doctor or going to the hospital, depending on the type of visit. Most preventive care visits like annual physicals are free or low cost.
Since you paid your premium, the company will pay for all/some of your health care costs when a health emergency occurs depending on what plan you have.
What should you look for in a health insurance plan?
The multitude of choices can seem overwhelming when searching for the right plan. Here are some things to consider when you’re searching for a health insurance plan:
- Employment: If you’re employed, you may have health insurance options available to you through your workplace. If benefits aren’t offered to you at work, you can get health insurance by purchasing it at healthcare.gov.
- Your age: If you’re under the age of 26, you may be able to get health insurance through a parent’s health plan. Once you turn 26, you age out of this option and must purchase your own policy.
- Affordability: There are many costs that go into health insurance. There’s your premium, and there may be out-of-pocket costs when you visit the doctor or urgent care. It’s important to consider both kinds of costs when searching for health insurance plans.
- The four metal categories: These tiers (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) show how you and your health insurance plan share costs. With each tier, you pay a certain percentage of the insurance plan, which determines how much your premiums and costs when you need care will be.
- Benefits: See what services and perks the health insurance plan provides to keep its members healthy. Some of these benefits can include access to a network of doctors and hospitals, prescription drugs, smoking cessation, and coverage for mental health care. Another benefit is a health savings account, or HSA. With a HSA, you can set aside money that won’t be affected by taxes to pay for medical expenses, which can lower your overall healthcare costs.
- Reputable health insurance companies: Watch out for scams for health insurance and cheap, “short term” plans that don’t cover basic needs. Stick with reputable companies.