Health Insurance 101
Health insurance helps you pay for medical care. Similar to auto insurance covering you in a car accident, health insurance protects you and your family’s finances in the event of a serious illness or injury.
6 things to know about health insurance
1. Helps keep you healthy
All plans cover many preventive care services before you get sick (even if you haven’t met your deductible) – check-ups, vaccinations, screenings for breast cancer, cholesterol and diabetes, and more – at no additional cost to you.
2. Protects you from debt
No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. It’s hard to predict when and what type of care you will need, let alone how much it will cost. Fortunately, health insurance is designed to greatly reduce the burden of the costs when you receive care. Did you know the average cost of a 3-day hospital stay without health insurance is $30,000? Or that treating a broken leg can cost up to $7,500? Having health insurance can help protect you from high, unexpected costs like these.
3. Helps you pay for care
Health insurance is designed to share costs with you. You may have to pay coinsurance or a copay as your share of the cost when you get a medical service, like a doctor’s visit, hospital outpatient visit, or a prescription. And you may have to pay a deductible each plan year before your insurance company starts to pay for care you get. For example, let’s say you have a $2,500 deductible. You go to the emergency room and the total cost is $3,500. You pay the first $2,500 to cover the deductible, and then your insurance starts to pay its share. Once you’ve spent the out-of-pocket maximum, your insurance will pay 100% of your covered healthcare costs.
4. There are many kinds of plans
While all health insurance plans are required by federal law to include the essential health benefits, your plan options still vary significantly in the type of plan, size of their provider network, how they share costs with you, and the benefits they provide (outside of those required by law).
You can easily compare plans based on what matters to you most using our Quick Cost & Plan Finder tool. While you are there, take the time to read the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) for each plan you are considering to understand how they share costs with you and to make sure the medical services you and your family use are covered.
5. Staying in your plan network will save you money
Health insurance plans contract with networks of hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, and health care providers to take care of people in the plan. Most plans will only pay when you get care from a provider in the plan’s network. If you go out-of-network, you will likely have to pay the full bill.
6. Be aware of insurance-like products
Outside of the Connect for Health Colorado Marketplace, you may see products that look and sound like health insurance, but don’t give you the same protection as full health insurance. Some examples are policies that only cover certain diseases, policies that only cover you if you’re hurt in an accident, or plans that offer you discounts on health services. There are also short-term plans that only last for six months. Rest assured that ALL plans sold through Connect for Health Colorado offer all of the benefits and protections of a Qualified Health Plan, including coverage for pre-existing conditions. Here’s a handy chart that will help you evaluate a plan.
Explore our health insurance resources
Health insurance can seem complex and confusing, so we’ve put together a variety of resources to help you feel more confident buying and using your health insurance.
- How costs work – Key elements that determine how much you pay
- The benefits all plans cover including free preventive care
- Types of plans
- 6 questions to ask before you buy
- Ways to save
- Common questions after you buy
- Using health insurance