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Understanding Health Insurance

Health insurance is designed to help protect you against the high costs of health care. It works similarly to other types of insurance — you pay a premium (payment) in exchange for the insurance company's promise to pay certain costs in the event of something unexpected. But health insurance also works a bit like a warranty from a car dealership — it also pays for routine maintenance to make sure you stay well and fixes minor things that go wrong from time to time.

Understanding health insurance will help you decode the maze of health insurance options available today. From the new health care law to HMOs and PPOs to Medicare and drug coverage, learn the facts so you can make more informed choices about your health care coverage and your future.

Why is Health Insurance Important?

Health insurance helps you stay healthy and get care when you need it. Plus it protects you financially. Discover more about why health insurance is important for you and your family.

Getting Health Insurance

You can get health insurance through an employer or purchase it yourself. There are many types of insurance for different needs and situations. Get the basics on getting health insurance.

Health Care Reform

The new health care law — called the Affordable Care Act — was passed in 2010. The law is changing the way some Americans get health coverage. Some changes are happening now. The biggest change for consumers comes in 2014, when almost everyone in the U.S. will be required to have health insurance. Learn more about how health care reform may affect you.

Types of Coverage

Knowing what is covered ahead of time is a key to finding the right plan for you. From medical care to prescriptions to dental or vision, learn about the types of health coverage available to you.

Types of Health Plans and Provider Networks

Learn about HMOs, PPOs and CDHPs, including how to tell which doctors and hospitals you can go to, how to work with your primary care physician (PCP), if you need a referral, and how to save money by staying in your network.

Economics of Health Care

Find out more about health care costs through our Economics of Health Care series. Its educational materials will help you identify health care costs, understand cost drivers and learn what we can all do to lower these costs.

Glossary of Terms

Some insurance and medical jargon may make understanding health insurance difficult. We've made it easy for you by providing clear definitions of common health insurance terms.