Having health insurance doesn’t always seem like a good deal, especially if you’re healthy and don’t plan on seeing the doctor much during the year. You may be tempted to skip out on coverage, choosing to pay the Obamacare penalty fine instead. But you should know that getting covered is an important tool in maintaining your overall quality of life as you age. From long-term cost savings to improving your longevity, here are just a few reasons why getting health insurance for 2017 is a good idea.
There’s a Fine in Place
You might think that the individual mandate, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, is history now that President Trump is in office. While Trump does seem bent on undermining the law as much as possible before replacing it with something else, the individual mandate is still in place. In 2017, you’ll pay the greater of $695 per uninsured adult and $347.50 per uninsured child in your household, or 2.5 percent of your family’s taxable income, if you don’t maintain coverage for the year. The fine is set to increase each year based on inflation. To avoid losing that money when you file your taxes, sign up for coverage before January 31.
Paying Now Could Save You Later
While health insurance can be costly, it’s nowhere near as expensive as what you’ll end up paying if you face a medical emergency. No one plans on getting sick, but medical crises can strike at any time, and the cost of medical care can be astronomical if you don’t have health insurance. Here are a few ways that health insurance can protect you from financial ruin:
- Health insurance plans cover the cost of essential benefits, including preventive care, which means that your doctor is more likely to spot problems early on. The sooner you get treatment for certain conditions, the less likely you’ll experience a full-blown emergency later in life.
- Major medical plans have an out-of-pocket spending cap. This is the most you’ll pay before your company covers all of your medical costs. It can be high, but it offers some relief, especially when hospital stays alone can costs tens of thousands of dollars.
A single accident that lands you in the hospital could leave you bankrupt if you don’t have health insurance. Let’s say that you break your leg on a family hiking trip, and you need surgery to repair it. The average cost to repair a broken leg via surgery if you don’t have health insurance is between $17,000 and $35,000. That doesn’t even include your surgeon’s fee and any extra services, like rehabilitation, prescription drugs or other costs associated with the accident. The bottom line is that most people can’t afford to pass on health insurance.
Even a High Deductible is Better Than Nothing
Some people avoid getting health insurance because they can only afford plans with high deductibles. Even if this is the case, you should still consider getting coverage. The higher the deductible, the lower your monthly premium will be. This makes affording health insurance easier for people with low incomes.
With higher deductibles, you will have to pay more out of pocket before your health insurance will cover medical costs, but it can still help you in the long run. Let’s suppose that you have a deductible of $6,000. This means that you’ll be responsible for paying $6,000 before your insurance company will jump in and pay its portion of medical costs. Most people don’t have $6,000 lying around, and it can be tough enough to need care without having to worry about money.
But consider that medical bills don’t have a cap for the uninsured. You could be billed $70,000 or more for back surgery, for instance, and that doesn’t include future services like physical therapy. Coming up with money to cover the deductible is typically easier than covering an entire hospital bill.
When determining how much you can afford to spend on health insurance, there are a few factors to consider. The first is the premium. Your premium is how much it costs on a monthly basis to pay for coverage. The higher your premium, the lower your deductible, and vice versa. Premiums are set up on a medal tier system under Obamacare, each with varying deductibles.
- Bronze: Covers about 60 percent of medical costs with an average deductible of $5,081.
- Silver: Covers about 70 percent of medical costs with an average deductible of $2,907.
- Gold: Covers about 80 percent of medical costs with an average deductible of $1,277.
- Platinum: Covers about 90 percent of medical costs with an average deductible of $347.
Studies show that people without health insurance are much more reluctant to go to the doctor for screenings and checkups, largely because upfront costs can be prohibitive for the average person’s budget.
But preventive car, like an annual wellness visit, is covered at no copay under ACA-compliant plans. What’s more, insurance companies are usually happy to pay for these kinds of services since preventive care is one of the best ways to avoid long hospital stays and excessive medical costs down the road. Keeping you healthy saves them money. Regardless of the metal tier type you purchase, any major medical plan is going to work to your advantage over the course of your life. Protect yourself and your family by getting coverage today.