January 23, 2024
– By Sarah Morris –
Finding health insurance can be challenging and is difficult to know where to start. So how do you find a health insurance plan that is right for you? Here are some tips and resources to help you navigate the confusing world of health insurance.
Why does health insurance matter?
Health insurance is important because it helps you pay for medical expenses. It can help pay for doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription drugs. Health insurance pays a portion of the cost of medical expenses. Without health insurance, people are responsible for paying the cost of these services.
This can get very expensive quickly.
You might wonder whether health insurance is worth it. After all, it can take time and effort to find the right plan.
Here are some of the benefits of having health insurance:
- It can help you afford preventive care such as regular checkups. These can help you stay healthy and avoid serious and potentially expensive health problems.
- It can help you pay for medical expenses if you get sick or injured. Medical expenses can add up quickly. This is especially true if you have a chronic illness.
Being uninsured can lead to serious health issues and money challenges.
According to a 2022 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, people without insurance are less likely to receive preventative care or treatment for chronic illnesses. Immigrants, people of color, and people who live in the Southern and Western regions of the U.S. are less likely to be have insurance.
Understanding health insurance plans
Some of the most challenging parts of finding a health insurance plan is understanding the wording and finding a plan that is affordable.
The March of Dimes outlined commonly used words and phrases in health insurance plans. Understanding these words and phrases can help you better understand if a health insurance plan is right for you.
Some common words include:
- Premium – this is how much you pay each month for insurance.
- Deductible – this is the amount of money you must spend before your health insurance plan starts paying for your health care expenses.
- Co-Pay – this is the amount of money you pay for medical services, like doctor visits or prescription drugs.
- Out-of-pocket maximum – this is the highest amount of money that you will be responsible for paying each year for your health care services.
Knowing these words and phrases can help you understand how much you will pay for health insurance. This knowledge can help you select a plan that meets your budget and your needs.
How to find health insurance in Alabama
If you live in Alabama, there are a few different ways to find health insurance.
- Through your employer. Many employers offer health insurance to employees as a benefit. If your employer offers health insurance, this is often the most affordable and convenient way to get coverage.
- Through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Health Insurance Marketplace is a government-run website where you can shop for and compare health insurance plans. You may also qualify for assistance to help pay for your monthly premiums.
- Directly from an insurance company. You can also buy health insurance directly from an insurance company, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.
You might qualify for Medicare if you are 65 years or older and Medicaid covers certain low-income populations, including children, pregnant women, parents of minor children, elderly people, and people with disabilities. There are also health insurance plans and resources specifically for children, such as ALL Kids.
Resources and support
There are many resources and services available to help you learn more about available health insurance plans. These resources can help you find affordable plans and select the plan that is right for you.
- HealthInsurance.org – a long-running site with guides on health insurance plans and policies.
- Alabama Public Health – this site provides information about programs and services offered by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
- Equitable Neighborhoods Initiative – ENI is also a great resource and can help you learn more about different health conditions, resources, and available services.
Finding a health insurance plan can feel overwhelming. Health insurance plans can be expensive and can use confusing words and jargon. But health insurance can help you maintain your health and avoid challenges from chronic conditions. And health insurance can help you avoid financial hardship from medical expenses. Remember there are many resources that can help you find a health insurance plan that is right for you.
This blog was written for the Equitable Neighborhoods Initiative in collaboration with a class at The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences. The class, called “Health and Social Networks,” looked at how people, groups, and organizations communicate, especially regarding health topics. ENI pinpointed health issues that were of major concern to our partner communities. The students in the class created informative materials to raise awareness about these specific health issues. While some students produced educational videos, others participated in a health fair hosted in one of ENI’s partner communities. This blog was created as part of the class project.