What health insurance is best for you? The answer to that question depends on your understanding of what health insurance is and what your particular needs are. First, it is not discounted health care. Generally speaking, insurance is a kind of risk management. Your premium is your monthly payment to the company to assume the risk of expense. In one sense, this is a sort of gambling. In this case, the health insurer is betting that you will not need care, and the premium you pay every month is your hedge to offset the consequences should you face large medical expenses. Your health insurance benefits are what you get when the company “loses” and has to pay out.\n\n\n\nNow that we know that a health insurance policy is a way to manage risk, it is important to understand that there are a number different kinds of agreements, or policies, available depending on your needs. Generally, the subject of health insurance brings to mind questions about doctor and hospital care available for individuals and families through privately purchased policies, and\/or employees through an employer group health insurance plan. When choosing a health insurance policy, you (or an employer) must decide what your tolerance for risk is and how much risk you want managed. To that end, there are many private companies selling insurance plans.\n\n\n\nSome examples of household names that you are sure to recognize are Aetna, Blue Cross Blue shield, Humana, United Healthcare, Sterling, and Mutual of Omaha. Insurance companies are also known as “payers” because they are responsible for paying out on your insurance claims when the need arises. Though there may be a relatively small number of companies with instant name recognition, there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of health insurers, and these are all separate payers offering different policies with different selections of benefits catering to different kinds of insurance needs. There are so many because health insurance is largely managed by private insurance companies regulated by Federal and State laws. Single-payer health insurance generally refers to a system where the government manages and pays on all insurance claims. Medicare would be an example of a single-payer insurance managed by the Federal Government.\n\n\n\nNow, the issue of which health insurance is best for you is answered in part by what specific health care needs are in question. There are many different kinds of policies, and the choices can be overwhelming. For example, there is disability insurance, accident and dismemberment insurance, temporary health plans, continuation of coverage insurance, hospital-only insurance, catastrophic coverage, disease specific, long term care, supplemental, and fee for service and managed care policies.\n\n\n\nHow you choose a health insurance policy depends on your assessment of your costs, needs, and circumstances. If you need doctor and hospital coverage for specific period of time, them you might seek a temporary policy from Blue Cross or Humana, for example. If you need family health coverage, then you might, hypothetically, seek a comprehensive medical plan from Wellmark, Aetna, or John Deere. Some people take out a policy, to provide another example, from United Healthcare (or some other insurer) to pay only in the event of hospitalization as result of cancer. Other people, who work in a high risk environment, might take out a policy to pay in the event of dismemberment occurring under certain, specified circumstances. The policies can be quite specific and written to answer your specific needs.