October 24, 2013

You Need Health Insurance

If you don't have health insurance then you should really get it.   

Most people get health insurance via their employers or through existing government programs like Medicare, Medicaid or VA benefits.    But there are still a lot of people who don't have insurance for various reasons.   Before the Affordable Care Act  (ACA) (everyone calls it Obamacare) there were a lot of people who really had a difficult time affording health insurance.  But with the ACA there are now subsidies that help pay for the cost of health insurance for those with medium or lower incomes.

If you don't have enough money to afford it then you can get generally get coverage under Medicaid.  If you make too much money to qualify for Medicaid then you will probably qualify for a premium subsidy from the government that will help pay the cost of health insurance.   If you make too much to qualify for the subsidy then you can afford health insurance.    I think this really splits the uninsured into two groups, those who have difficulty affording it but can now get aid through the government programs or people who can actually afford it but don't buy it.

Some people feel they can't afford insurance but they simply aren't making it a priority.    Health insurance should be a priority over many other expenses.   If you make an average income or better than you should have money in your budget to afford health insurance.   If you don't feel you have the money then you need to re-prioritize your spending.    People without health insurance generally skimp on healthcare when they need it since they can't afford the out of pocket costs without insurance.    What good does cable TV or a nicer car do you if you end up seriously ill for lack of adequate health care?  

Its not likely you'll have a giant unaffordable hospital bill but the consequences are catastrophic.   If you do end up with a serious illness or injury then the total healthcare costs can easily bankrupt most people.   Some people feel that going without health insurance is an acceptable risk because they think the chances of needing it are low such that they feel its 'worth it' to fore go buying insurance and take the risks.   We don't treat auto insurance or home owners insurance this way so I'm not sure why people make such choices with health insurance.   Healthcare costs can wipe you out financially just as well as a severe auto accident or a home fire.  

Younger people may also feel that they have no 'need' for health insurance because their healthcare costs have been generally low.   Younger people are generally more healthy and do have relatively low healthcare needs and lower risks.    This however is not good reason to go without health insurance entirely.  Younger people are not immune from serious illness or injury.    While its not likely you'll end up with a giant hospital bill it can and does happen to people who are under 30 years old.   Just stop and think about all the people you know and who you know in their 20's who've had serious illnesses and serious injuries.  I'm sure you know someone.  

Healthy lifestyles also don't defend you against all serious healthcare costs.   A lot of people seem to think that because they do a good job taking care of themselves with good diet and exercise that this means they're immune to hospital stays.   Certainly keeping in good shape will keep you in good health but it doesn't defend against all illnesses and injuries.  

It may make good sense to get a high deductible plan but you need catastrophic coverage at a minimum.    Young and healthy people do have lower healthcare costs so a high deductible plan may be a good idea financially.  But you should at least get a plan that will kick in and protect you against extremely high medical costs for serious illness or injury.   People under 30 can still buy catastrophic plans under the ACA and the Bronze level often has $5000 level deductibles.    These plans are often quite reasonably priced (relatively speaking) especially when you consider subsidies available to most people.

Please make health insurance a priority in your budget.  Going without health insurance is not worth the risks.

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