The Top Ten Reasons to Get Health Insurance
One of the hallmarks of being a responsible adult is looking out for your welfare and that of your loved ones, and one of the best ways of doing that is by obtaining a robust health insurance policy. Health insurance not only protects you from unforeseen medical expenses, but it is also essential for maintaining your family’s health. It is easier than ever to get health insurance, and the benefits far outweigh the costs.
1. Financial security—the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that the average annual medical costs for each American was $10,345 in 2016. This is taken from a national average so you may not pay this much—but you could pay much, much more if you encounter a serious medical issue. A sound health insurance plan will transfer the costs of a hospital stay, major illness or prescription drugs from you on to an insurance company.
2. Peace of mind—if you aren’t covered by a health plan, then you are essentially gambling that you will remain healthy. You may be young and in good shape, but as the years go by, the odds will stack against you. You may not recognize it, but this financial jeopardy is raising your level of stress. Once you get proper health coverage, you will be astounded at how much better you feel knowing you are protected from financial catastrophe.
3. Lower medical costs—many people think they will forgo health insurance in an effort to save a few dollars, and instead pay for doctor visits themselves. This is a serious financial mistake because medical expenses are significantly lower with the insurance companies negotiating for you. In many cases, insured medical fees can be 20 to 50 percent lower than personally paying for them.
4. Inability to enroll—you may believe that you can wait to enroll when you are already injured or ill, but that may be too late. First of all, the government’s health insurance exchanges only allow enrollment at certain times of the year. Even if you do enroll, your coverage may not begin for some time, and your insurance won’t cover expenses prior to the policy’s term of coverage. Finally, you should know that with a new administration in office, insurers may not be required to ignore pre-existing conditions.
5. More likely to use the ER—if you do not have health insurance, you are more likely to visit the emergency room because you will likely wait until a health condition deteriorates, and you are less likely to have a personal family physician. Not only is ER health care less beneficial because they may not have access to your health records, but the fees for services are often much higher. Furthermore, you may find it much more difficult to obtain follow up care after a visit to an ER without insurance or a primary care physician.
6. Government subsidies—with the passage of the Affordable Care Act under President Barack Obama, you can now get many health insurance policies at a sizable discount if you obtain them through your state’s health insurance exchange. Depending on your income, you may be able to get hundreds of dollars in tax credits each month. This means you could end up paying only a few dollars a month to keep your family covered. While the future of ACA under President Donald Trump is uncertain, there is still a good chance that the government will maintain some type of subsidized health insurance program.
7. Avoid government fines—since the Obama administration passed the Affordable Care Act, you may be financially penalized if you don’t have health insurance. In 2015, that penalty was $325 per adult, $162.50 per child or 2 percent of your annual income (whichever is greater). Depending upon your income, it may be wiser to devote these dollars to protecting you and your family’s health rather than paying a fine that doesn’t offer any benefits.
8. Better health—probably, the greatest advantage to having health insurance is that you will likely have improved health. People without insurance are much more likely to wait to see a doctor than those with health insurance. This often leads to a worsening of the condition which can create serious complications that damage your long term health as well as produce larger medical bills.
9. Preventive care—people with health insurance are guaranteed many preventive health services at completely no charge because the federal government mandates it. These include:
- Blood pressure screening
- Cholesterol screening
- Diet counseling
- Colorectal cancer screening
- Vaccines for hepatitis, herpes, influenza, tetanus, measles and mumps
- Depression screening
- Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
- Tobacco screening and intervention
By taking advantage of these and other preventive health services, insured patients cannot only learn about health risks at early stages and receive treatment before they become serious, but they can also learn how to change their lifestyle to avoid future health problems. If you do not have health insurance, you are considerably less likely to use such preventive health services.
10. Improper health management—for many people without health insurance, the costs of drugs and treatment are overwhelming. This often leads to poor health management like ignoring doctor’s orders. Uninsured patients are much more likely to take smaller medication dosages, forgo testing or avoid surgery. These can prove dangerous in the short term if there is a serious health issue, or allow a minor health issue to snowball into a much more dangerous one.
Given the many financial and health reasons for obtaining health insurance, it is difficult to understand why anyone would choose to go without this important coverage. While there is a cost to having a health plan for you and your family, the benefits of being covered are so much greater. Sign up for coverage through the government exchanges or your local insurance agency as soon as possible to start benefiting from your new health insurance policy.
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