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Your 4-step guide to health insurance

By The Health News Team | August 12, 2022
Doctor with patient and receptionist working in clinic lobby

Finding a health plan and selecting the right amount of health insurance coverage is a big decision. However, having health insurance is the law in California. If you don't have coverage, you may have to pay a penalty unless you qualify for an exemption.

We all have different needs and preferences when it comes to our health coverage. It's important to choose a plan that's right for you and your loved ones. This four-step guide can help you get on the path to picking a plan.

Step 1: Do your homework.

Copay or coinsurance? In network or out of network? Health insurance terms can be confusing. Learning about these terms and how health insurance works can help you better understand your own personal coverage and become a more informed consumer. You should always check with your health insurance carrier for their specific term definitions, as these can vary.

Step 2: Keep your current plan, or pick a new plan.

In most cases, if you are happy with your current plan and it is set to renew for another year, you won't need to take any action. Otherwise, open enrollment is the time of year when you can make changes or purchase new health insurance coverage — whether you're Medicare-eligible, purchasing insurance through your employer or Covered California™, or purchasing it directly through a health insurer such as Sharp Health Plan.

Note: If you're enrolled in your parent's plan and will be turning 26 in the next year, you will need to enroll in your own health plan soon.

Step 3: Find a doctor.

Many health insurance plans require you to choose a primary care doctor. Would you prefer a doctor closer to your home or office? A male or a female doctor? Use this handy road map to help you find a doctor who is right for you.

Step 4: Get the most out of your health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act allows many people easy access to preventive screenings at no additional out-of-pocket cost. Learn more about preventive screenings and make a plan for the new year at the next appointment with your doctor. Many health plans also offer wellness programs, such as Sharp Health Plan's Best Health® wellness program, to help you set and meet your health goals.

Sharp makes it easy to get the care you need. Learn more at

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