Understanding health care

How health care works

The advantages of having health care coverage are many. Without it, it’s harder to get the care you need to stay healthy or catch problems early. If a health problem gets worse, you may have nowhere to go but the emergency room, where care is very expensive.

Let’s put it all together

There are two main parts to health care — the care and coverage that helps you pay for the care. See how having health coverage keeps you better connected to health care.

Health care

Almost everyone gets sick, hurt, or needs some kind of medical help. To get better, you usually need care — like seeing a doctor, staying in a hospital, taking medication, or all of the above.

Health care is:

  • Doctors’ office visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Emergency room visits
  • X-rays
  • Laboratory tests
  • Prescription drugs
  • And preventive care
    • Well-baby visits
    • Well-woman visits
    • Immunizations
    • Screenings

Health coverage

Health insurance is a lot like the insurance people have to protect their car or home. Some people get health insurance through their jobs, and some buy it themselves. Without insurance, high medical bills can often wipe out savings and even lead to bankruptcy. Insurance helps protect you financially if you have a serious illness or injury that requires extensive care.

  • Each month, you pay a premium to your insurance company or health plan to provide you with health care coverage.

  • When you need care (such as doctor visits, hospital care, and medications), your insurance company or health plan may help you pay for it.

For example, let’s say a visit to the doctor costs $100. Instead of having to pay all of it by yourself, you may have to pay only $20. Your insurance company or health plan will pay the other $80.

How you benefit

There are lots of advantages to having health care coverage. Here are just a few of the big ones.

  • Peace of mind. You shouldn’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay if you get sick, injured, or pregnant. Life is unpredictable, but when you have health coverage, you have more control, and you can rest easy knowing that you’re going to get the care you need.

  • Care when you need it. You can see a doctor when you’re sick or just need preventive care. You don’t need to ignore symptoms or hope they’ll go away. You can get treated before things get worse.

  • Stay on a healthy path. Preventive care helps you catch minor symptoms before they become problems. Screenings, like mammograms and cholesterol level tests, can catch problems early – when they’re easier to treat.