What is Private Health Insurance?

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You can get health insurance in many ways, but you can group them into two main categories: private and public.

Public health insurance is the way Americans get coverage. This is how it works.

Types of Private Health Insurance

Private health insurance is provided by private organizations (such as UnitedHealthcare or Kaiser Permanente) and not by the government. Insurance provided by the state or government is considered public health insurance.

The US Census estimates that 66.5% of Americans have a private health plan compared to 34.8% of those with public plans.

There are several types of health insurance that you can purchase.

Employer-sponsored health insurance

Employers often offer group health insurance as part of their benefits. This can be available to you alone, or it can be provided to your spouse and dependents at a premium.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer health insurance that pays at least 60% of the cost of health insurance. Businesses that do not pay for low-cost health insurance may be subject to tax penalties.

About half of all Americans receive employer-sponsored health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

ACA marketplace plans

You can also buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace at Healthcare.gov. The marketplace allows you to compare available health insurance plans and sign up through a variety of methods, including online, over the phone and in person.

The federal government provides its own health insurance marketplace for most states, while a few states have their own exchanges. When you apply for ACA health insurance, you enter household information and expenses. Based on this information, the market estimates the cost of health insurance after premiums, taxes, and utilities are taken into account.

Private health insurance from an insurance company

You can also buy health insurance directly from a health insurance company.

These plans are not subject to ACA regulations. For example, they may not offer all the basic health benefits found in ACA plans, such as:

  • Emergency services
  • Hospitals
  • Lab work
  • Treatment for mental illness and substance abuse
  • Outpatient care
  • Children’s services, including children’s vision and teeth
  • Pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care
  • Addictive drugs
  • Health and safety services
  • Rehab and replacement services and equipment

Without the need to meet the ACA regulations, you can buy low-cost insurance directly from an insurer that does not have much information available on the market. Health insurance companies often also offer plans similar to those available in the market.

One important difference between the marketplace and purchasing directly from an insurance company is that plans purchased directly from the company are not eligible for tax credits or subsidies like marketplace plans. This may not affect you if your household income exceeds the tax and subsidy limits, but if you qualify for the savings, you must follow the market plan.

Short term health insurance

Many states allow low-cost, short-term health insurance, which provides limited coverage for a short period of time. These health plans offer affordable coverage, but they don’t offer the coverage found in health insurance.

Short-term health plans can also exclude pre-existing conditions and have limits on the benefits of prescription drugs, doctor visits and services provided. The short-term planning does not affect the mother’s care or feelings.

You may consider a temporary health plan if you lose your job-related job and don’t want to pay COBRA health insurance until you get new employer-sponsored coverage. Or you may prefer the low cost of a short plan, knowing that the plan does not offer the coverage found in a full health plan and you will pay more for care when you need it.

Term insurance covers 364 days, with a 36-month renewal option in most countries. But some states have additional requirements and some states, including California, do not allow long term insurance plans.

Critical health insurance

Catastrophic health insurance is a type of coverage available in the ACA marketplace that offers the same coverage found in the ACA plan but with a higher deductible.

A high-risk health insurance policy that is written off in 2022 is $8,700. Once you reach the deductible, the risk plan covers all of your health care costs for the year.

These policies are not for everyone. You must be under 30 years of age or qualify to be exempt. For example, you may qualify for hardship relief if you are homeless.

A risk plan may be an option for a young person who just wants a comprehensive coverage plan, but this low-cost option comes with out-of-pocket costs when you need care.

What Is Not Considered Special Health Insurance?

Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP plans are not health insurance.


Medicare is the health insurance for eligible Americans that is administered by the federal government. About 18% of Americans have Medicare, according to the most recent survey from the US Census Bureau.

You must meet one of three criteria to qualify for Medicare coverage:

  • You must be 65
  • Have a qualifying disability
  • Have end-stage renal disease that requires dialysis or a transplant

Medicare is divided into Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

There are two levels of so-called Original Medicare coverage:

  • Medicare Part A: This includes hospitals, nursing homes, nursing homes and home care.
  • Medicare Part B: This is a medical insurance that covers your doctors, outpatient care, medical treatment and preventive measures.

People with Original Medicare can also get drug benefits through:

  • Medicare Part D: Prescription drugs, including shots and vaccines, are covered by this part of Medicare.

Another option to Original Medicare is Medicare Advantage, which is also called Part C. Private health insurance companies work with the federal government to offer Medicare Advantage plans and often have extras that are not available in Original Medicare.


Medicaid is a government-sponsored health insurance program designed for low-income families. Pregnant and disabled women may also be eligible. About 18% of Americans have Medicaid coverage, according to the most recent survey from the US Census Bureau.

Medicaid is available in all states, but eligibility rules vary by state. The giveaway starts immediately for those who qualify. You can also visit the health insurance market to complete an application and see what you can do.


More than 9.6 million children are enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which provides coverage for children and mothers. The low-income program is administered by the federal government and subsidized by the federal government.

Some say they integrate CHIP into the state Medicaid program, while others have separate Medicaid and CHIP programs.

CHIP coverage includes a number of services, such as well-child visits, dental insurance, behavioral therapy and immunizations.

How to Get Cheap Health Insurance

Group health insurance plans offered through employers are often the cheapest individual health insurance plans because the employer pays for them.

If you don’t qualify for an employer-sponsored plan, you can use the ACA marketplace to find coverage and buy a plan. These plans often cost more than employer plans, but you can save money if you qualify for premium taxes and subsidies, which lower the cost of ACA plans.

Another very affordable health insurance option is to buy short term health insurance. But you don’t have to see term insurance as a long-term solution. These plans offer limited coverage, high out-of-pocket costs and an expiration date.

Find the Best Health Insurance Companies in 2022

Private Health Insurance FAQ

What is the difference between public and private health insurance?

Public health insurance like Medicaid is provided by the federal government and has certain eligibility requirements, such as your age and household income. Private health plans, including ACA marketplace plans or group health insurance, are sold by a private organization on behalf of the state or government and do not have the funding or age requirements found in programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

What is the difference between Obamacare and health insurance?

Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, is a federal law that creates a market and specifies minimum requirements that must be provided. ACA plans are health insurance, but only a small percentage of Americans have ACA plans. The most common type of private health plan is employer-sponsored insurance.

Is COBRA insurance a type of health insurance?

COBRA is a type of private health insurance that you can buy if you lose your employer-sponsored health insurance. You may be eligible if you lose your job or your working hours are cut and you are no longer eligible for a work-based plan.

A spouse or dependent may also be eligible for COBRA if the employee dies or for other reasons such as divorce.

COBRA coverage provides the same benefits found in an employer-sponsored health plan, but usually without the employer’s contribution to premium payments. The individual usually has to pay the full cost of the health insurance.