Why is Health Insurance Important?

family healthcare

If you have heart disease or stroke, health insurance can help you.

Enrolling in high-quality health insurance also can help you avoid large medical bills that can cause financial hardship and even medical bankruptcy.

With health insurance, you can go to the doctor for:

  • Preventive services to help you avoid serious illness.
  • Care for ongoing health conditions.
  • Treatment for new health issues, such as chronic disease or injury.

Understand Your Options

Health insurance can be confusing. The good news is there are several resources that can help you understand and compare health plans:

Summary of Benefits and Coverage:

If you have a private health plan through your employer or that you buy on your own, you should get a standardized, easy-to-understand form called the Summary of Benefits and Coverage. You can use it to help you compare different insurance options and costs. Ask your insurer for it if they don’t provide it.

To see a sample of this short form and learn more about how it can help you, Consumer Reports magazine has developed this helpful guide.

Glossary of Health Insurance Terms:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed a glossary for common terms related to health insurance, such as "deductible", "co-payments" and "out-of-pocket limits." 

Paying for Health Care or Health Insurance

If you don’t already have health insurance or you’re interested in switching to a new health insurance plan, you may be able to buy a plan on your own through the Affordable Care Act. The ACA allows qualifying individuals and families to receive financial assistance to help cover the cost of premiums. Known as the Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit, this subsidy helps people who need health insurance afford their coverage. Resources like HealthSherpa.com(link opens in new window) and Healthcare.gov can help you find out whether you are eligible for the tax credit. They can also help you compare different health insurance plans available to you in your state. They may also be able to tell you if you qualify for programs like Medicare or Medicaid.

Check out HealthSherpa.com or Healthcare.gov if you would like to learn more about health insurance options available in your state and what you need to do to enroll.


View transcript for the open enrollment podcast (PDF)


Grandmother and granddaughter researching on laptop

Health Insurance Marketplace

The open enrollment period for 2023 coverage is complete, but you can still get health insurance if you qualify due to a life event. Visit HealthCare.gov(link opens in new window) to learn more.

Use these resources to learn more about finding health insurance: