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Your Guide to Health Insurance

Health care can be one of the most expensive things that many Americans deal with. Health insurance can be very expensive and many Americans choose to go without it. It is estimated that about one in seven Americans are without health insurance. Many choose not to have insurance because they feel it is not worth the money or that they cannot afford health insurance. However, health insurance can protect people from bankruptcy due to medical bills and help them get the medical care they need in times of a crisis.

Health Insurance Providers

There are several ways that people can get insurance. One common way to get insurance is to take advantage of an insurance plan provided by your employer. These plans are good because they are group plans, which means that you will be accepted despite any preexisting medical conditions. Additionally, the premiums are generally lower. Usually the employer helps to cover a portion of the premium. There is also the option to look for independent health insurance, which means that you find a plan on your own. This is difficult to get if you have preexisting medical conditions and can be very expensive. The rate hikes may be steep as well. COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) is a law that allows you to continue your current coverage for up to eighteen months after you lose your job as long as you pay the full cost of the premium. If you are a student you can often purchase health insurance through your school or stay on your parents’ plan as a dependent up to a certain age, which varies by state.

Ways to Find Insurance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was created to protect the patient and the patients’ health information from being shared improperly. When you visit the doctor you will be asked to fill out a statement each year that lists the people who you are willing to receive your health information. Insurance companies need to receive the information since they will be paying for services but HIPAA prevents information from being shared with friends or relatives unless you specifically put them down as being acceptable on the form. This was designed to prevent discrimination as well.


Medicare and Medicaid are two health insurance programs run by the government. They were both established in 1965 to help people who needed health insurance. People who are 65 or older qualify for Medicare. People are permanently disabled may also qualify for Medicare. There are limits on what Medicare will cover and many people choose to have additional insurance to supplement the coverage. Medicaid was set up to help people who could not afford to pay for health insurance. State governments administer it and there are specific income guidelines that you must meet in order to qualify for the program. Both adults and children can qualify for Medicaid.

Medicare and Medicaid

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was enacted in 1997. It was designed to give health insurance to children who did not meet the standards for Medicaid but whose parents still could not afford health insurance for their children. Each state administers the program differently. Some children will qualify outright with no need for a premium while others may have to pay a low annual premium to be on the insurance. 


("Legal information found on this page does not constitute legal advice.")

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