Health insurance is a legal contract between two or more parties that promises certain performance in exchange for considerations. A health insurance policy is considered a unilateral contract. This is because only one party (the insurer) is required to fulfill their obligation. While a policy owner may decide to terminate premium payments, as long as the payments are paid the insurer must meet their responsibility under the contract.
A health insurance policy can provide just one or any combination of certain benefits:
Hospital, medical and surgical expenses resulting from sickness or an accident
Accidental death or dismemberment
Disability resulting from accident or sickness (sometimes this can also be referred to as "loss of income" or "loss of time"
An accident is an injury that occurs accidentally. A sickness is an illness or disease that is not the result of an accident. Knowing the difference is important because policies may have different provisions that apply to accidents or sickness. Also, there are some companies that sell a separate accident policy that does not include sickness.
The terms accident and sickness are widely used and often interchangeable in any discussion of health insurance. They are often abbreviated as A&H and A&S. Health insurance is also referred to as medical insurance.
Health insurance is designed to protect again two types of economic loss. Loss of income and expenses for medical care which places them in either of two broad policy categories:
Disability income policies
Medical expense policies
Disability income policies can also be referred to as loss of income, loss of time or replacement income. This type of policy will pay benefits to an insured who is disabled and can no longer work to earn a regular income. Payments can be weekly or monthly depending on the policy.
Medical expense policies are represented by a wide range of coverage from very minimal to comprehensive packages with multiple coverage. Some include both accidents and illnesses, various hospital expenses and other costs pertaining to medical care such as:
Accident and sickness policies
Basic medical expense policies
Major medical expense policies
Comprehensive medical expense policies
Any of these policies might cover various combinations of the above and may be paid in a lump sum.
Accident Policies. Some policies cover only accidents and not illness. As you might imagine, policies like this are very specific about what is considered an accident.
It is important to understand what is defined as an accident as it pertains to the health insurance industry. . .an accident is an event that is unforeseen and unintended.
Keep in mind that any discussion of this type of policy also applies to any type of policy that includes accidental coverage not just accident specific policies.
Accident benefits are most commonly paid for accidental loss of life (also called accidental death), accidental loss of limb or sigh (dismemberment), loss of time and/or income, hospital expenses, surgical expenses, and medical expenses like visits to the doctor.