No one ever plans to get sick or injured, but inevitably, it happens to all of us at one time or another. During those times when we need to seek the care of a medical professional, having health insurance coverage helps to offset some of the costs associated with the doctor’s visit, follow-up care or any prescription drugs that may be recommended to get you back on track to good health. And, for those of us fortunate enough to remain in good health all year long, there are still many perks that come along with having health insurance.
Benefits of health insurance
Health insurance plans are designed to cover, or at least offset, many of the costs associated with maintaining your health.
- Health insurance helps to cover medical expenses related to treating minor illnesses and accidents – including doctor visits, follow-up care and prescription drugs.
- If you become critically ill or injured, or otherwise find yourself requiring extensive, unexpected medical care, health insurance can protect you from what may otherwise add up to enormous medical debt.
- Having a health insurance plan means you will end up paying less for covered in-network healthcare than you would if you weren’t covered – even before you meet your deductible.
- Many preventive care services are provided for free if you are covered by health insurance. This can include things like screenings, vaccines and some check-ups, like annual well visits.
Types of health insurance
Individual health insurance
Individual health insurance is an insurance plan that is purchased by an individual or family outside of what may be offered by their employer. Typically, individual plans are purchased during an open enrollment period, either through your state’s exchange or directly from an insurance company. Historically, individual health insurance plans were known to be less costly than employer-sponsored group plans because they provided fewer coverage benefits; but since the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, individual health insurance plans have become more benefit-rich and offer many of the same health coverage options as group plans – like maternal care and the treatment of pre-existing conditions.
Group health insurance
Some individuals have the opportunity to purchase health insurance at a discounted group rate through their employers. Group health insurance is designed to be a cost-effective way for businesses to offer health insurance benefits to their employees, and as a result, employee premiums are often less expensive than individual health plan premiums. Additionally, group plan premiums are often deducted directly from the employee’s paycheck pre-tax, which means they end up paying less overall.
Many individual and group health insurance plans will provide vision benefits and discounts on various vision-related products and services. You can see an eye doctor for things like:
- Annual eye exams
- Eyeglass frames
- Eyeglass lenses (including lens coatings and enhancements)
- Contact lenses
- Vision correction surgeries like LASIK or PRK