While some of the population is fortunate enough to have access to health insurance through an employer, the rest of the country isn’t always so lucky. The Affordable Care Act has helped the uninsured rate reach a new low (less than 12 percent as of December), but there are still millions of Americans out there who need health insurance.
The most common excuse for not getting insured? “I’m perfectly healthy, so I don’t need health insurance.” The most important thing to know is health insurance isn’t only for the sick; it can protect you and save you money on health care when you least expect it.
To help you understand its importance, here are three reasons why you shouldn’t wait—now is the time for you to find health insurance.
Health insurance can actually be affordable.
You may have heard of this little thing called the Affordable Care Act (sometimes called Obamacare) that came into play a few years ago. Under this law, all Americans have access to affordable health insurance, even if not through an employer.
To save you even more money, the Affordable Care Act also introduced tax credits. These subsidies depend on a few different factors, including your household income and the size of your family, but it’s important to fin out if you qualify before choosing a health plan.
Yes, you will have to pay a monthly premium for your plan, as well as various out-of-pocket fees for medical services. But it’s better to pay a smaller amount ahead of time instead of facing unaffordable costs later on.
It doesn’t work retroactively.
Here come those unaffordable costs. Let’s say you don’t have health insurance and you’re playing intramural soccer with your friends when you suddenly trip, fall, and break your arm. Your friends all tell you to head to the hospital for an MRI, but you know that without health insurance an MRI can cost almost $3,000, which is $3,000 more than you have to spare.
Not into sports? Let’s try this one: Surprise! You need an appendectomy. The estimated cost without health insurance? Almost $14,000. Most people assume they’ll never need their appendix removed so you never thought to get health insurance to cover these kinds of costs.
These are just a few of the real life situations (and associated costs) you could face if you don’t have health insurance. And if you find yourself sick or injured, you can’t get health insurance to cover your medical costs after the fact. It only works if you get health insurance before you need it.
Going without means a big fine.
If you still think you don’t need or can’t afford health insurance, know this: Choosing not to get health insurance has big financial consequences. If you don’t enroll in coverage this year, you could owe the government almost $1,000. And paying that fine doesn’t mean you then suddenly have health coverage—you’ll still be uninsured. So you’re basically handing over $1,000 for nothing but a good scolding in return. If you opt-in for health insurance instead, you’ll avoid this fine and any high costs associated with the health care you need.
Already use health insurance under the Affordable Care Act? Tell us about your experience!