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Health Insurance Basics

Why You Need a Health Plan

October 16, 2017

No one plans on getting hurt or sick, but the fact is you’ll likely come down with an illness sooner or later. If you've avoided health insurance because you think "It won't happen to me," you're putting yourself at financial risk.

That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare, since "anything can happen." According to a 2013 study in the journal PLoS One, even a basic emergency room visit can cost you up to $1,200. The U.S. government site Healthcare.gov reports that if you're hospitalized, a three-day hospital stay costs approximately $30,000.

Uninsured medical bills can be so expensive that they’re the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States. That's why it makes good sense to expect the unexpected. Be prepared by having a health plan.

What a Health Plan Covers

You need health insurance to:

  • Cover essential health benefits that help you stay healthy and treat illness and accidents. These normally include outpatient care, emergency services, hospitalization, pregnancy, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse disorders, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, laboratory services, pediatric services and more.
  • Protect you from unexpected high medical costs.
  • Keep costs down with in-network medical care. Before you even meet your deductible, you can save hundreds or thousands in medical costs.
  • Provide you with free preventive care. That means you get vaccinations, screenings and annual check-ups without having to meet your deductible. Preventive care means you identify problems early, which makes treatment more effective.
Health Plans Keep You…Healthier

Health care outcomes tend to be much better for people who have a health plan compared with those who don't. For example, at least two studies published in late 2016 in the journal Cancer, show that people with health coverage who were diagnosed with certain types of cancer received the diagnosis sooner and lived longer after they were diagnosed.

Avoid Paying a Penalty

Having a health care plan is so important that the federal government requires almost everyone to have one. If you can afford health coverage and you don’t buy it, you're responsible for what's called the "individual shared responsibility payment." This is basically a penalty or fine calculated as a percentage of your income or per person. If you pay the penalty instead, you won't get any of the benefits that you would have with a health care plan.

Other Insurance Options

If you are still unable to find Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant options to meet your needs, there are other alternatives that may be available to you including short-term plans, critical illness and accident or fixed indemnity products. These plans offer coverage for accidents, critical illness, doctor visits, hospital visits and more. While these are not ACA compliant plans, they offer reasonably priced coverage for specific benefits.

With so many options to fit your needs and budget, there are many reasons to get coverage from a health plan.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3584078/
  2. https://www.healthcare.gov/why-coverage-is-important/coverage-protects-you/
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/simple-thrifty-living/top-10-reasons-people-go-_b_6887642.html
  4. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/16/494139538/studies-link-cancer-patients-survival-time-to-insurance-status