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How your health insurance is (and isn’t) like car insurance

Sometimes looking at where health care does and doesn’t overlap with other forms of insurance can give us a better overall understanding of how health care works.

By Barb Breher
August 2, 2017

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Insurance – whether it’s for your health, your home or your car – is so important, but it can also be pretty confusing. When people call me with questions about their coverage, I find it helps to compare health plans to other kinds of insurance.

How it’s the same:

  • You’re covered in case of an emergency or a catastrophe
  • You pay a regular premium for that coverage, even if you don’t use it
  • There is usually a deductible (amount you pay before your plan starts paying) that you need to meet, in addition to your premium
  • The language is similar. If you understand what a deductible is for another kind of insurance, it also applies to your health coverage

How it’s different:

  • The stakes are higher. When your toddler has a high fever, your first priority is to get him to the doctor for care right now. But those shingles that blew off your garage roof? They can probably wait.
  • You’ll likely use your health coverage more often than you would file a claim for homeowner’s insurance or need to get your car fixed after an accident
  • Preventive care is free, and we want you to take advantage of routine exams, tools and other resources that support your well-being. Your car’s upkeep, on the other hand? You’re responsible, since auto insurance doesn’t cover oil changes or other maintenance.

I like to remind people that health plans exist to keep them healthy. No matter what level of coverage you’re considering, I recommend starting with a list of what’s important for the health of your family, and the right plan will become clear.

Choosing a health plan for your family is an important decision. I encourage you to consult an adviser, plan representative or other trusted partner to help make the decision.

About Barb Breher

Barb Breher is a leader in the Member Services department at HealthPartners. She specializes in individual and family health plans. Barb loves helping members understand and use their coverage (it’s confusing!). When she’s not working, she loves relaxing and camping with her husband and two young daughters. Minnesota locals: she highly recommends Voyageurs National Park.

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