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Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

Questions and Answers About Health Insurance

A Consumer Guide

This guide describes different kinds of health insurance plans and answers common questions. There is a glossary of health insurance terms as well as resources for more information.

For the print version, download the PDF File (175 KB). PDF Help.

To obtain print copies of Questions and Answers About Health Insurance: A Consumer Guide (AHRQ Publication Number 07-0043), call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or send an E-mail to


This guide briefly describes the different kinds of health insurance plans available today, including:

  • Network-based plans.
  • Non-network based coverage.
  • Consumer-directed health plans.

You will find answers to many common questions you may have about health insurance. Resources are provided to help you find additional, more detailed information.

There is also a Glossary of health insurance terms. Terms defined in the Glossary are in bold and linked the first time they appear in the guide.

This guide offers general information only. Do not rely solely on this guide in making health insurance decisions.

Health insurance plans vary widely, both in cost and in benefits. Before enrolling in a health insurance plan, you should consult the plan brochure and read the policy to get specific information about the benefits and costs and the way the plan works.

This guide was developed jointly by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and America's Health Insurance Plans to provide consumers with general information about health insurance options.


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