Looking for a Health Insurance Quote?

Get a free quote in under 5 minutes with our online form!


Public private arrow sign

Private Health Insurance vs. Public Health Insurance

Find out if public or private health insurance plans are the best fit for you.

Find Affordable Health Insurance In Your Area!

1. Who are you searching for?

2. What is your zipcode?

3: Compare quotes

Understanding the differences between private and public health insurance can help us make informed decisions about our healthcare needs. Private health insurance may provide more comprehensive coverage and cover items that are not covered under public health insurance plans, such as cosmetic surgery or fertility treatments. On the other hand, public health insurance usually has lower premiums and may offer more flexibility when it comes to choosing a plan. Most importantly, learning about these differences can ensure that we get the best coverage for our particular situation..

Private vs Public Health Insurance

Private health insurance typically comes in two types: employer-based and individually purchased. Employer-based plans are usually cheaper and often have a wider range of coverage than individual plans. Individual policies are purchased directly from an insurer and offer more choices in terms of coverage and cost. On the other hand, public health insurance is provided through government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, which provide healthcare to those who meet certain eligibility requirements. These programs may also offer services such as preventive care or mental health services for specific individuals, families, or groups.

Private Health Insurance

Private health insurance is an insurance policy that covers medical costs for an individual or family. Unlike public health insurance, these policies have to be purchased from an insurer, such as an employer or a private company. Private health insurance plans typically have higher premiums but may offer more coverage and flexibility than public health insurance. Depending on the policy, private health insurance may cover preventive care services, specialty care, prescriptions, hospital stays, and mental health services. It is important to research different options and talk to a professional before committing to a specific plan.

Employee-Sponsored Health Insurance Plans

Employee-Sponsored Health Insurance Plans are a type of private health insurance that is provided through an employer. These plans are typically part of an employee benefits package, and they provide coverage for medical expenses incurred while employed at the company. The employer pays a portion of the premium, and the remaining cost is usually shared by the employees. Depending on the plan, coverage can include preventive care services, hospitalizations, prescriptions and mental health services. As with any type of private health insurance policy, it is important to review all plans carefully before signing up for coverage to ensure it meets your needs.

As of 2015, health insurance reforms as a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, require that all employers with over 50 full-time employees provide affordable health coverage to avoid a tax penalty. How much you will pay for these plans and how the payments will be made will vary depending on your employer, so be sure to talk to your Human Resources department for more information.

Individual Health Insurance Plans

An alternative to employer-sponsored group coverage is individual coverage or individual health insurance. Individual Health Insurance is a type of private health insurance that is purchased directly from an insurer. This type of policy does not involve an employer, so the policyholder pays the full premium themselves. Individual plans are more expensive than employer-based plans and typically cover fewer services. However, they offer more choice in terms of coverage, including tailored options for those with certain conditions or lifestyles. It's important to do plenty of research before signing up for individual health insurance to make sure it meets your specific needs.

Private Health Insurance: Pros

One of the major pros of private health insurance is that it provides more flexibility and choice. Private health insurance plans typically offer a range of options so that policyholders can choose coverage that best suits their individual needs. Furthermore, they often provide additional services such as preventive care, mental health services and even vision or dental care which may not be covered by public health insurance plans. Private health insurance also allows for access to a wider network of medical providers that may not be available through public plans.

Another pro of private health insurance is that it typically covers services not available through public plans. This includes things like alternative treatments, plastic surgery and infertility services. Private health insurance plans usually have more comprehensive coverage for prescription medications than what is offered through public plans. Additionally, private health insurance may offer policyholders the option to add riders, which are additional benefits for specific health needs such as mental health, vision or dental care.

Private Health Insurance: Cons

One downside to private health insurance is that it can be expensive. The premiums for private health plans are typically higher than public plans and out-of-pocket costs are often greater. Furthermore, the availability of different services and coverage levels can be confusing, making it difficult to compare policies and determine which one is best suited to your needs. Additionally, policyholders may not be able to benefit from the same tax breaks or subsidies available through public health insurance plans.

Another con of private health insurance is that they often have high deductibles, which can make it difficult for policyholders to make use of their coverage. Deductibles are generally set as an amount thatpolicyholder must pay out of pocket before the plan’s benefits kick in and begin covering services. This means that policyholders may be responsible for paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for medical care before their insurance kicks in. Additionally, some private plans also require copayments or coinsurance, which can lead to expensive bills even after meeting a deductible.

Public Health Insurance

Public health insurance is coverage that is provided and regulated by the government, usually through a public program. Medicare and Medicaid are two of the most well-known examples of public health insurance in the United States. Medicare provides health coverage for individuals over 65 or for those who qualify due to certain disabilities. Medicaid expands access to healthcare for Americans with low incomes at either no cost or with reduced payments relative to private plans. Tricare is another source of public health insurance that provides exclusive benefits for active duty military personnel, veterans and their families.


Medicare is the federally-funded health insurance program for adults over age 65, qualifying, disabled younger people, and people who have been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) also called End-Stage Kidney Disease. ESRD is the final stage of chronic kidney disease which over time, can lead to a complete loss of kidney function. Medical treatment is necessary to maintain kidney function which requires dialysis or transplant procedures. These treatments may be covered by this Medicare. Visit medicare.gov for more information.


Medicaid is a health insurance program that is jointly funded by the federal and state governments. Medicaid provides health insurance to millions of low-income individuals and families, pregnant women, people with certain disabilities, as well as other qualified individuals. Visit medicaid.gov for more information about these services and qualifications.

Other Special Groups

Aside from Medicare and Medicaid, there are also other government-sponsored healthcare plans for specific individuals who may qualify.


Tricare is a public health insurance program for active duty military personnel, veterans and their families. It was created in 1995 as the new health care system of the United States military. Tricare provides access to medical care at no cost or with reduced payments relative to private plans. Generally speaking, the Tricare system covers doctor visits, hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental health services and other essential medical benefits. Additionally, Tricare has several different plans available so that policyholders can choose a plan that fits their needs..

Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides health insurance coverage to military veterans and some qualifying retired military service members.

Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal grant program designed to provide health insurance coverage to uninsured children in families who do not qualify for Medicaid but who cannot afford private health insurance. CHIP provides comprehensive health benefits, which may include preventive care, doctor visits, hospitalization, vision and dental care, mental health services and prescriptions. In addition to providing access to healthcare coverage for millions of children, CHIP also helps reduce the overall cost of healthcare by covering costs associated with preventative care.

Public Health Insurance: Pros

One of the greatest benefits of public health insurance is that it provides a safety net for vulnerable populations. Low-income individuals, elderly citizens and those with pre-existing conditions are often able to access quality coverage through public health plans. Additionally, public health insurance can make healthcare costs more manageable by covering some or all of the cost associated with routine healthcare procedures. Finally, public health plans may also provide access to free preventive care such as immunizations and cancer screenings, which help reduce long-term medical costs and improve overall wellness.

Another pro of public health insurance is that it provides more access to care. Many people living in rural or underserved regions may not be able to afford private insurance, but may be eligible for public health insurance. This coverage can provide access to medical treatments and prescriptions that would otherwise be out of reach. Public health plans also typically have a wide range of providers and hospitals, giving patients more choices when it comes to choosing the best healthcare provider for their needs. In addition, some public health plans offer additional coverage such as mental health services, vision and dental care, which are often not provided by private insurers.

Public Health Insurance: Cons

One of the downsides to public health insurance is that it can be subject to government regulations, which can limit patient access to treatments and medications. Additionally, public health plans may not provide access to specialists or advanced medical treatments, leaving some patients without access to the care they need. Furthermore, due to limited resources, public health plans may have long wait times for treatment or appointments. Finally, many public health plans impose limits on how much coverage they provide each year, making it difficult for those with significant medical expenses to obtain the care they need.

Another con of public health insurance is the lack of flexibility. Public health plans often have a set list of coverage options, leaving little room for customization or additional coverage. Additionally, some public health plans may have restrictions on which providers can be accessed, meaning that some patients may not be able to find the doctor that best suits their needs or receive care from specialists who are out-of-network. Furthermore, many public health plans do not offer enough coverage for expensive medical treatments or prescriptions, forcing patients to pay out-of-pocket expenses in order to get the care they need.

Key Takeaways

It is important to understand the differences between private and public health insurance in order to make a decision that best suits your needs. Private health insurance plans typically offer more coverage options, provide access to specialists and advanced treatments, and have shorter wait times for treatment or appointments. On the other hand, public health insurance plans are subject to government regulations, lack flexibility in their coverage options, and may not cover as much of a patient's medical expenses. Therefore, it is important to weigh all of the pros and cons of each option before making a decision about which one is better for you.

Firstquote Health can help you determine if private or public health insurance is the right option for you. They provide a range of plans, allowing individuals to compare and contrast different coverage types, deductible amounts, waiting periods and more. With their expertise and knowledge of the healthcare landscape, they can provide personalized advice on which plan would be best suited for your needs. Additionally, Firstquote Health offers an online platform to make it easier for customers to understand their healthcare options and make informed decisions about their health care plans.

Popular Articles