- Thinking about the costs of cancer treatment
- Private health plans
- Types of private health plans
- Other things to know about health insurance
- How to manage your health insurance
- Getting answers to insurance-related questions
- Keeping records of insurance and medical care costs
- When you have problems paying a medical bill
- Handling a claim denial
- Keeping employer-sponsored health insurance coverage when you leave your job
- COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act of 1986)
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
- The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
- The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990
- The Affordable Care Act
- Government-funded health plans
- Who regulates insurance plans?
- Health insurance options for the uninsured
- State coverage and health insurance options for the hard-to-insure
- Financial issues: Getting help with living expenses
- Getting money from life insurance policies
- Other sources of financial help
- Disability benefits
- To learn more
Private health plans
Private health insurance coverage is a contract between you and an insurance company that promises to help pay the costs of medical care. This could include routine check-ups and screening tests to prevent or detect an illness, diagnosis and treatment of an illness or injury, and follow-up care. Good medical coverage can help you stay healthy and help you avoid major money problems if you get sick or are in an accident.
Group health plans
Many people have private insurance through employee group plans or individual plans. A group health plan covers a group of people, usually employees of the same company, and often their dependents. In general, employers must offer health coverage to full-time employees, even if an employee is sick or has a pre-existing condition. Some employers pay part of employee health care premiums, which are the monthly payments for coverage.
Individual health plans
Individual plans are sold by insurance companies directly to the insured person, not through an employer. Some individual policies also cover family members, or dependents. The company may check into your personal and family health history, and they may require physical exams or lab tests when deciding whether they will insure you.
They often charge higher monthly premiums and require patients to pay more for their care than group plans, depending on the insured person’s age and overall health. In some cases, a health insurer may choose not to sell an individual plan to a person who has had a serious illness – this can be a big problem for people who have or have had cancer.
Individual plans also offer different levels of coverage. Some plans offer very good coverage, while others don’t offer enough coverage for someone with a serious illness.
Starting in 2014, individual plans will have to follow a new set of rules that are designed to protect patients. Insurers will have to sell an individual plan to anyone who applies for one, regardless of their health status. They will not be able to charge higher monthly premiums to someone just because that person is ill or has been ill. And they will have to offer a minimum set of benefits needed to screen for and treat diseases such as cancer.
Last Medical Review: 06/24/2013
Last Revised: 08/05/2013