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A stethoscope sitting on top of three hundred dollar bills beside a hypodermic needleHealth insurance is a contract between you and your insurance company. You buy a plan, and the company agrees to pay part of your medical costs when you get sick or hurt.

There are other important benefits of health insurance. Plans available in the Marketplace(and most other plans) provide free preventive care, like vaccines, screenings, and check-ups. They also cover some costs for prescription drugs.

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Health insurance protects you from high, unexpected costs

Did you know the average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is $30,000? Or that fixing a broken leg can cost up to $7500? Having health coverage can help protect you from high, unexpected costs like these.

How health insurance coverage works

When you have insurance, you pay some costs and your insurance plan pays some:

• Premium. A premium is a fixed amount you pay to your insurance plan, usually every month. You pay this even if you don’t use medical care that month.

• Deductible. If you need medical care, a deductible is the amount you pay for care before the insurance company starts to pay its share. Once you meet your deductible, your insurance company begins to cover some costs of your care. Some plans have lower deductibles, like $250. Some have higher deductibles, like $2000. Many plans provide preventive services, and sometimes other care, before you’ve met your deductible.

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