Health & Disability

The challenge in buying health insurance is to chose the coverage you need and can afford. This section details options apart from group health insurance that employers typically provide and illustrates how the various policies work.

Protecting Your Health

The best health insurance products available might cover every known medical risk, but they also might cost more than you can pay. The challenge in buying health insurance is to choose the coverage you need and can afford.

Nine of ten Americans with private health insurance get it through the workplace. Employer-sponsored plans are written on a group basis, and the resulting efficiencies are passed to member employees. The employer also helps pick up the tab, so these plans probably are your best health insurance buy. But pressure is building as health-care costs rise rapidly and employers seek to pass more of these cost to employees or reduce coverage.

Responding to these trends, insurers in recent years have launched Health Savings Accounts — private accounts that can be funded by the employer, the employee or both, to cover healthcare expenses. Insurers also have introduced supplemental health plans, which pay benefits directly to the policyholder upon diagnosis or admission to a hospital. These sometimes pay for treatments that regular plans don't insure.

This section also discusses the pros and cons of disability and long-term-care insurance, and the choices you face once you qualify for Medicare. Disability protects against loss of income when you cannot work, while long-term-care protects against having to spend down your assets if you need help to care for yourself. Medicare provides core health insurance coverage, but there are a variety of optional, supplemental coverages for which you must pay out-of-pocket.