Insurance is all based on probability. Insurance companies are able to run based on the idea that only a few people will actually need to make an insurance claim for a large sum of money. The rest will pay a small amount (in premiums) and never have to claim anything.
See, you pay a little to cover yourself in case something bad happens, so you can receive a lot in the rare event that a tree falls on you, or you get into a fender bender, or your house is burglarised. The idea is that everyone (or a lot of people) pays to get coverage, so that when a few of those people actually need the money, everyone else is chipping in.
We’re not going to sugarcoat this: just as sickness, injury and eventual death are pretty much bankable certainties in life, health and life insurance need to be as well.
Here in the U.S., the primary source of coverage for most people is private insurance, which you and your immediate family will often receive in the form of a benefits package through your work. In countries in the world with state-funded health care systems, every citizen has access to basic coverage, though the extent of that coverage varies widely.
There are two basic types of private health coverage, scheduled and comprehensive coverage:
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If you get sick or badly injured and need to spend some time in a hospital bed, scheduled coverage won’t foot the bill. It’s really just designed to protect you from the running day-to-day costs of seeing your family physician and picking up a prescription at the pharmacy;
Comprehensive plans, on the other hand, are the Rolls Royces of health insurance. Pricier to acquire and maintain over time, but with a much higher potential payout if it all goes very, very wrong and you need long-term care.
To start shopping around for personal or group health insurance, eHealthInsurance is a great resource to use. On this site you can compare quotes across a huge range of insurance companies and find the most affordable policy based on your needs. You can apply directly to the policies online and get “eApproval”. They also offer a lot of information on health care reform that will affect you.