Your health insurance buying guide

Our advice on health insurance, including HMOs, PPOs, and Medicare

Published: March 2013

Which health insurance plan is right for you depends on many factors, most notably your age,  whether you are employed, and whether your employer offers you insurance or you have to buy on your own. Regardless of your situation, see our guide below for what you need to know. And use our health insurance rankings to look for the plan that is right for you based on where you live, your circumstances, and the kind of coverage you think you need.

Choosing a health insurance plan that's right for you starts with understanding how insurance works. Unfortunately, that's not so easy. Click on the image at right for a quick lesson in understanding health insurance.

Many important components of the Affordable Care Act are already in place, and the rest will be by January 1, 2014. That's when the law will  deliver on its biggest, most difficult reform: the promise of health care for all, regardless of medical history or ability to pay. Click on the image at right for tips on making the most of health care reform.

Your health insurance options vary depending on whether you have a job, have to buy insurance your own, are 25 or younger, or have a pre-existing medical condition, like a history of asthma or heart disease. Click on the image at right for tips on choosing a health insurance plan.

Medicare offers comprehensive health insurance coverage to people 65 and older. But the decisions and choices you face can be confusing and overwhelming. Click on the image at right for our step-by-step guide for managing Medicare.

One in five Americans are now enrolled in Medicaid, the government's health insurance program for low-income people, as well as many people who are disabled or live in nursing homes. Click on the image at right for advice on navigating Medicaid.

Just because you have insurance doesn't mean it's easy to use. That's especially true if you want to go out of your plan's network of providers, have a flexible spending account, or have a lot of bills. Click on the image at right for our tips on maximizing your health insurance plan.

Click on the image at right for rankings of health insurance plans nationwide. Use the tool to:

  • Choose a plan category such as private HMO or PPO, or Medicare HMO or PPO.
  • Choose a state.
  • Customize your search to compare plans' scores and their performance in measures such as consumer satisfaction and providing preventive services.

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