How to Use Your Health Insurance

Health insurance helps you pay for your health care. It can cover services ranging from routine doctor visits to major medical costs from a serious illness or injury. It also covers many preventive services to keep you healthy. You pay a monthly bill called a premium to buy your health insurance and you may have to pay a portion of the cost of your health care each time you receive medical services.

How do I use my policy?

Each insurance company has different rules for using health care benefits. You should look at your plan’s benefits and limitations when you first sign up for insurance, especially if the plan requires you to receive your care from certain doctors and hospitals, as most plans do. In general, you will give your insurance information to your doctor or hospital when you go for health care. The doctor or hospital will bill your insurance company for the services you get.

What do I use an insurance card for?

Your insurance card proves that you have health insurance. It contains information that your doctor or hospital will use to get paid by your insurance company. Doctors usually make a copy of your insurance card the first time they see you as a patient.

Your card is also handy when you have questions about your health coverage. There’s a phone number on it you can call for information. It might also list basics about your health plan.

What’s a network?

Doctors and hospitals often contract with insurance companies to become part of the company’s “network.” The contracts spell out what they will be paid for the care they provide. If you go to a doctor in your insurance company’s network, you will pay less out of your own pocket than if you go to a doctor who doesn’t have a contract with your insurer. Some insurance plans will not pay anything if you do not use a network provider (except in the case of an emergency). So it is important to consult the plan’s network before seeking care.

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