Essential Health Benefits: What’s Included in Your Health Insurance Plan

The Ten Categories of Essential Health Benefits

  1. Ambulatory Patient Services: This category includes outpatient care services, such as doctor visits, specialist consultations, and outpatient surgeries.
  2. Emergency Services: Coverage for emergency medical care, including emergency room visits, ambulance services, and urgent care treatment.
  3. Hospitalization: Health insurance plans must cover inpatient care services, including hospital stays, surgery, and related treatments.
  4. Maternity and Newborn Care: Coverage for prenatal care, labor and delivery, postnatal care, and newborn care, including well-baby visits and vaccinations.
  5. Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services: This category includes coverage for mental health services, such as therapy and counseling, as well as treatment for substance use disorders.
  6. Prescription Drugs: Health insurance plans must provide coverage for prescription medications, including both generic and brand-name drugs.
  7. Rehabilitative and Habilitative Services and Devices: Coverage for services and devices aimed at helping individuals recover from injuries or disabilities, as well as services to assist individuals with developmental disabilities or chronic conditions.
  8. Laboratory Services: Coverage for diagnostic laboratory tests, including blood tests, urine tests, and other medical tests used for diagnosis and treatment.
  9. Preventive and Wellness Services and Chronic Disease Management: Health insurance plans must cover preventive services, such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, and annual check-ups, as well as services for managing chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
  10. Pediatric Services, Including Oral and Vision Care: Coverage for pediatric care, including well-child visits, immunizations, dental care, and vision care for children.

Why Essential Health Benefits Matter

The inclusion of essential health benefits in health insurance plans offers several important benefits for consumers:

  1. Comprehensive Coverage: EHBs ensure that health insurance plans provide coverage for a wide range of healthcare services, from preventive care to major medical treatments.
  2. Access to Necessary Services: By mandating coverage for essential services, EHBs help ensure that individuals and families have access to the healthcare services they need to stay healthy and manage chronic conditions.
  3. Protection Against Financial Hardship: Health insurance coverage for essential services can help protect individuals and families from facing significant financial burdens associated with medical expenses.
  4. Promotion of Health and Well-being: Coverage for preventive services and chronic disease management can help promote overall health and well-being by encouraging regular screenings, vaccinations, and early intervention for health issues.

Understanding Your Health Insurance Coverage

While essential health benefits provide a baseline level of coverage, it’s important to remember that not all health insurance plans are created equal. Coverage levels, deductibles, co-payments, and out-of-pocket maximums can vary widely between plans. When selecting a health insurance plan, it’s essential to carefully review the plan’s coverage details, including the specific services and treatments covered, any limitations or exclusions, and the cost-sharing requirements.


Essential health benefits play a crucial role in ensuring that health insurance plans provide comprehensive coverage for essential healthcare services. By mandating coverage for a range of services, from preventive care to hospitalization, EHBs help protect individuals and families from facing undue financial burdens associated with medical expenses. Understanding what essential health benefits are included in your health insurance plan is essential for making informed decisions about your healthcare needs and ensuring that you have access to the services you need to stay healthy and well.

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