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What is health insurance?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Health insurance is a formal agreement to provide and/or pay for medical care. The health insurance policy describes what medical services are "covered" by the insurance company. There are medical services that are not "covered" and will not be paid by your insurance company.

There are a variety of private and public health insurance programs. Most women obtain health insurance through their employer or as a "dependent" in a family plan. There also are public health insurance plans funded by the federal and state governments.

This information is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Health insurance is a contract between you and an insurer that says the company will pay part of your medical expenses if you get sick or hurt and have to visit a doctor or hospital. The amount of your bill the insurer will pay, and under what circumstances, is known as coverage and can vary a lot.

Because a single hospital stay could wipe out your savings (and more), not many people can afford to go without some kind of health insurance-even if they're healthy. Health insurance is designed to not only protect you from bankruptcy if a major medical event occurs, but also to provide peace of mind.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.