Unfortunately, getting sick is a part of life. It can also be a very expensive part of life. That’s why it’s so important to have good health insurance in place so you can get the treatment you need to stay healthy.

There are 10 things everyone should know about health insurance in the United States. This information will help you understand how this insurance works and make sure you have the right coverage in place.

Health Insurance Is Mandatory

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has transformed the American health insurance market by setting up new rules for coverage. One of these new rules is that everyone must have health insurance coverage. If you don’t have coverage, the IRS will charge you an extra tax penalty for each month that you don’t have coverage.

Buying Insurance Has Gotten Easier

In the past, buying health insurance was a scary experience. Companies usually required you to get a physical and would look over your medical history as part of your application. It was possible that they would deny your application based on this information. The Affordable Care Act made buying coverage a lot easier because under the new rules, insurers can’t deny you coverage based on your medical history.

There Are Limits to When You Buy Coverage

You can’t buy health insurance whenever you want. Instead, you need to meet a qualifying condition to buy a policy. First, you can buy a policy every year between November 15th and February 15th. You can also buy coverage after certain events like when you lose coverage because you left your job or you had to leave your parents’ insurance plan.

There is a Wide Range in the Quality of Coverage

Not all health insurance plans are built equally. More expensive plans generally offer more coverage and charge fewer out-of-pocket fees throughout the year. A less expensive plan might restrict the medical providers you can see and will most likely charge you other fees throughout the year. Make sure you understand exactly what a plan covers before signing up.

Your Premiums Won’t Be Your Only Expense

To keep your health insurance in-force, you need to pay a monthly premium. This won’t be your only expense. Most health insurance policies charge you out-of-pocket fees throughout the year known as deductibles and coinsurance. You need to pay these fees whenever you get medical care. Be sure to set some money aside so you won’t be caught off guard by these expenses.

Make Sure Your Doctor Is in Your Network

Health insurance plans have a list of approved providers. To see a doctor, that doctor needs to be on your plan’s list. If you like your doctor and don’t want to change, look for a plan that approves your doctor as a provider.

You Can Extend Your Work Coverage After Leaving a Job

When you leave a job, you’ll have to leave the company health insurance plan too. You don’t need to leave right away though. You can stay on the company plan for up to 18 months after leaving a job because of a program known as COBRA. Your premiums might be more expensive, however, because your employer will no longer be helping you pay for your coverage.

Some Treatments and Medications Won’t Be Covered

Health insurance plans don’t cover every possible treatment and medication. They typically exclude new or experimental treatments that have yet to be proved. If you want these types of treatments, you’ll need to pay for them yourself.

Children Can Stay On Their Parents’ Plan as Adults

Children can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan as adults. They are allowed to stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26.

Routine Dental and Vision Care Probably Won’t Be Covered

Most health insurance plans do not cover routine dental and vision care. If you have a medical problem that forces you to see an optometrist, that is likely to be covered but routine checkups are not. If you’re worried about these bills, you can buy a separate dental and vision insurance plan.

Your health is too important to leave to chance. Keep this information in mind so you can find the right coverage that will protect you and your loved ones.