For something that’s supposed to protect and reassure, health insurance can sure be anxiety-provoking.

Should you choose a high-deductible plan? An HMO or a PPO? Traditional Medicare, Medigap, or Medicare Advantage? And what does all of that stuff mean anyway?

Even if you succeed in choosing a plan and signing yourself up, there’s a decent chance that when it’s time to use your health insurance it’s not going to work out exactly as you thought. A 2015 Consumer Reports survey of 2,200 Americans found that almost a third of people with private health insurance had received a surprise medical bill and that most people didn’t know where to turn with complaints about their health insurance.

Consumer Reports feels your pain. To make the process easier to understand—and to work better for you— we’ve come up with a number of resources and tools.  

Consumer Reports Resources

Other Reliable Sources

  • Get the most out of the Affordable Care Act. Check out, a nonprofit organization that partners with local groups in all 50 states to help consumers understand and take advantage of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Compare and choose a state or federal marketplace plan. The federally supported website can direct you to the health insurance marketplace in your state and provide information about enrollment deadlines and coverage options.
  • Compare private health insurance plans. The nonprofit National Committee Quality Assurance ranks health insurance plans on member satisfaction and other measures. Use the NCQA Ratings to compare HMOs, PPOs, and Medicare Advantage Plans.
  • Get personalized advice on Medicare. The nonprofit organization offers advice and individual counseling to consumers signing up for Medicare or having problems using it. You can also reach a counselor at 800-333-4114.
  • Sign up for Medicare and get help choosing coverage.  The government’s official website,, provides comprehensive information on thhe program and can direct you to information about specific Medicare Advantage plans. You can talk with a Medicare representative at 800-633-4227.
  • Get local help about Medicare. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, helps Medicare beneficiaries with plan choices, billing problems, and more.

Watch: What If Your Pizza Place Billed Like a Hospital?