The cost of health insurance in the United States has been a hot topic of conversation in recent years; mainly due to the astronomical costs. Premiums, co-pays, deductibles, prescription medications; the average American family pays thousands of dollars for health insurance ever year. The prices are rising at an alarming rate and don’t seem to show any signs of stopping.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Americans were required to purchase health insurance or they would face a federal tax penalty; that’s no longer the case, as the penalty has been waived by the Trump administration. No more federal tax penalty coupled with the exorbitant expense of health insurance and many people are opting to skip coverage all together.
Given the fact that health insurance costs so much, as does every other necessity (the overall cost of living in the US is rising at exponential rate, as well), and considering that wages aren’t reflecting the increased cost of living, it’s no wonder why so many Americans are foregoing health care coverage. If you’re like millions of other people who are struggling to make ends meet, you may be thinking about ditching your policy; but, before you do, it’s a good idea to understand what could happen to you if you do nix your coverage and end up needing medical care.
Exorbitant Medical Care
While yes, health insurance itself can cost an excessive amount of money, compared to the amount of money that you’ll have to pay if you do get sick and you aren’t covered, you could end up paying double, triple, or even more for the medical care you required.
One of the reasons why health insurance is so expensive is because health care services, overall, are so costly. Without coverage, you are responsible for paying the entire sum of those expenses out of your own pocket. Even if you are a relatively healthy person, don’t assume that you won’t need medical care; unexpected illnesses can affect even the healthiest individuals. Appendicitis, Lyme disease, the flu, and even chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, can impact anyone.
Should you come down with the flu, for example, and need to be hospitalized (flu epidemics have become commonplace in recent years), or if your appendix unexpectedly ruptures and you need to have emergency surgery, you’ll be footing a heft bill for any procedures and medications you require, as well as your hospital stay. The full cost of medical care can end up costing you a lot more than you would save on your monthly premiums and deductibles.
You Could Still be Penalized
Even if you don’t end up getting sick, if you skip out on health insurance, you still may have to pay a penalty.
While the federal tax penalty for not having health insurance has been eliminated, many states still do have their own penalties in place; in other words, depending on where you live, you may be charged a penalty if you don’t have health insurance that complies with the laws in your laws.
States were health insurance penalties are in place include:
- New Jersey
- The District of Columbia
The dates that penalties will go into effect for these locations vary, as does the amount uninsured individuals will be required to pay, so if you live in one of these areas, it’s a wise idea to find out how you will be affected if you elect to skip out on coverage. Additionally, other states may decide to follow suit and instill their own penalties, so make sure you keep current with any changes in your state of residence so that you aren’t hit with an unexpected penalty come tax season if you opt out of carrying coverage.
Should You Forego Health Insurance Coverage?
Given the astronomical expenses that you could end up being fully responsible for if you do get sick and don’t have insurance, and the fact that you may still be charged a penalty (depending on where you live), skipping out on health insurance is never a good idea. Yes, it might seem like the more cost-effective way to go in the short-term; but, in the grand scheme of things, the expense of not having coverage just isn’t worth it.
There are affordable health insurance options; for example, you may consider a high-deductible plan, which would require lower monthly payments. A Health Savings Account is another option you could consider. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may even qualify for Medicaid.
The bottom line? Don’t skip out on health insurance; instead speak to a reputable agent and together, you can find affordable coverage options that would meet your needs and help you avoid potentially devastating expenses.