Why Health Insurance Should Be a Top Priority Even When Money Is Tight
If you’re young, healthy, and working for a low-to-average salary, you might consider cutting your health insurance or avoiding it altogether—especially if you don’t have health insurance through an employer. Even for healthy, young adults, health insurance can cost hundreds of dollars a month, and if you’re trying to live frugally on a thin stream of revenue, that expense can seem practically unmanageable. If you haven’t been to the doctor in a while, those costs might even seem like a waste.
Millions of millennials are choosing to go uninsured for these reasons. But even if your budget is tight, it’s vital that you make health insurance one of your top priorities.
Straightforward health insurance may not be the only options available to you, but you should have some degree of medical protection. For example, you might usehealthcare services for people who are uninsured. These tend to be much more accessible and cost-effective than traditional healthcare services. You may also be able to sign up for a medical discount plan that gives you many of the same discounts as a traditional health insurance package.
Why You Need Health Insurance
A comprehensive health insurance package is still a good idea, however, and should be one of your top financial priorities.
These are the most important reasons:
- Cost reductions. One of the most straightforward reasons to get health insurance is to get discounts on health services, including doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and prescription medications. Ordinarily, these services can cost hundreds of dollars or more, but with a good health insurance package, you may only need to pay a few dollars for your prescriptions, and as little as $20 for each visit. After a few visits, your insurance could pay for itself. However, this isn’t the most important reason to get health insurance.
- Bankruptcy potential. In the United States,more than 60 percent of all bankruptcies are due to medical bills. Medical emergencies aren’t exactly common, but they have the power to wipe out a lifetime of finances. If you end up in an accident or if you get a complex disease like cancer, you’ll be completely without assistance if you have no health insurance. Between ongoing treatments, hospital stays, ambulance trips, and other expenses, you could end up paying hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars. Health insurance shields you from this eventuality.
- Preventative medicine.Preventative medicine is one of the most important ways to protect your health. Practically any health issue that starts out small, or barely noticeable, has the potential to snowball into something larger and much more expensive. For example, noticing enamel wear during a dentist appointment gives you the chance to mitigate the problem with basic dental hygiene habits. If it goes unnoticed, it will develop into a cavity that needs filled. If it goes untreated at that stage, you’ll need to pay hundreds of dollars for a root canal, and hundreds more for a crown. Preventative medicine not only improves your overall health, it’s much, much cheaper in the long run. Best of all, most preventative care options are either free or ridiculously inexpensive with a healthcare plan—so you can partake in them at your leisure.
- Penalty avoidance. If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll also pay a fee of 2.5 percent of your yearly income or $695 per person without insurance—whichever is greater. If money problems are keeping you from getting health insurance, it’s reasonable to assume that your fee will be somewhere in the range of $1,000 a year, plus or minus a few hundred dollars. Health insurance costs aren’t too much more than that, and they come with innumerable benefits.
How to Make Health Insurance Work for Your Budget
So what if you’re stuck with high expenses, a low salary, and a tight overall budget? How can you make health insurance work for your financial situation?
There isn’t a straightforward answer here that will work for everyone equally. For some people, this may mean taking on another job or picking up a side gig. For others, it may mean working toward a promotion, or another opportunity where you can get health insurance as part of a robust benefits package. You can also make more room in your budget by downsizing your current home, reducing your living expenses, and living more frugally.
Health insurance is expensive, but that’s because it saves you lots of money in the long-term, and could protect you from total financial ruin in the event of an accident or catastrophic disease. Make it one of your top financial priorities, and don’t just cut it indiscriminately because it’s inconvenient.