Over 50 million Americans are currently without health insurance, with more losing coverage each day. But what is health insurance, and why is it important?
What is Health Insurance?
Health insurance is a type of insurance policy that pays a portion of medical expenses. For instance, if you need to visit a doctor, have surgery, purchase prescription drugs or get medical tests (like x-rays), health insurance will pay a portion of the expenses incurred. The portion of expenses paid varies by policy.
Vaccines, check-ups, routine physical exams—each is important to maintaining health. But those without health insurance are less likely to receive potentially life-saving preventive care.
What Does Health Insurance Cover?
A standard health insurance policy covers:
- Visits to primary care doctors and specialists
- Emergency services, including visits to the emergency room
- Medical check-ups, including blood tests, pap smears, etc.
- Medically necessary procedures (surgery, MRIs, CAT Scans)
- Prescription drugs
Health insurance won’t cover 100 percent of medical costs, though. Patients are responsible for small fees—co-payments—when visiting medical providers or purchasing prescription drugs.
Health Insurance Covers Prescription Drugs
Without health insurance, you probably can’t afford prescription drugs. It’s not uncommon for a prescription drug to cost hundreds out-of-pocket. In fact, the average cost for a prescription drug is now $71, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
With health insurance, a small co-payment is usually all that’s necessary to purchase a prescription drug.
Choosing the Best Health Insurance Plan
When choosing the health insurance plan that best fits your needs, consider these tips:
- Find out what is covered. Is your family doctor covered, or specialists like chiropractors?
- Conversely, learn what isn’t covered. For instance, some health insurance policies won’t cover acupuncture of treatment for mood disorders
- Choose between HMO and PPO. HMOs are generally cheaper, but PPOs offer greater flexibility
- Make sure your health insurance plan covers the prescription drugs you need
As medical costs continue to soar, health insurance is more important than ever. The average cost of a three-day hospital stay is nearly $30,000, according to Blue Cross. Keeping these numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that over half of bankruptcies are related to medical expenses.
Compare individual health insurance quotes right now and find coverage that fits your needs and your budget.