Most people know that health insurance can be an important way to get preventive care and cover medical costs, but they don’t often know how they should think about the decision of whether or not to get coverage. It can be annoying to find the right plan, expensive to pay for premiums, and after all that, a pain to deal with the insurance company when you need to use your insurance.
So why would you do it? Especially if you’re young and healthy?
Health insurance gives you some control over unpredictable costs that come along with your health. No matter how well you take care of yourself, your future health isn’t guaranteed. That means the cost of getting or staying healthy can be hard to predict. Even if you haven’t needed any medical care in the past, that can change from an accidental injury or unexpected illness.
Healthy people get sick all the time, and having health insurance keeps it from costing an arm and a leg (oh no, it’s going to be a blog with puns).
Still not convinced? Here are a few sobering facts:
- The average surprise medical bill is $2-3k
- Emergency medical costs account for 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed in America
- The majority of Americans are unable to cover emergency medical expenses over $1k
- And that was before 46 million Americans had their emergency savings wiped out during the COVID-19 pandemic
Your health is wealth
If you’re in good health right now, you may be wondering why getting health insurance matters in the first place.
One key benefit of health insurance is access to preventive care. Routine physicals and screenings are often low-cost or free when you have health insurance. Having access to inexpensive preventive care means health issues can be caught early and treated faster. Not only does this mean better health outcomes for you, but it likely means lower costs associated with a health event.
This is especially important with a chronic lifetime illness like diabetes. The health and financial costs that come with a diagnosis can be severe. Having access to screening regularly can help to identify the illness early and make it manageable.
Most people expect their health to remain relatively stable when thinking about the future. Unfortunately, your health can change at a moment's notice—not just due to an emergency like a broken bone, but for a chronic illness too. Health insurance provides a safety net to help absorb the financial uncertainty that comes with a health emergency.
The importance of health insurance: In three real life examples
Take a look at the three examples below to see how having health insurance can keep you healthy and save you money at the same time. Each example follows Emily, who is deciding between a health insurance policy with a $1,500 deductible and 20% coinsurance or going without health insurance for the year.
1. Broken Bone
Emily was healthy this year and expects to remain healthy in the coming year. Unfortunately, she breaks her leg while attempting the latest TikTok challenge.
Between a visit to the ER, an x-ray, medical attention, and receiving a cast for her leg, she racks up a bill of $7,500. That’s on par with the average cost of a broken leg, and costs only go up from there if surgery is required.
Without health insurance, Emily would be responsible for paying the full $7,500 out of pocket. This is a significant financial burden that immediately wipes out any savings Emily might have benefited from by choosing to go without health insurance for the year.
With the health insurance plan that Emily is considering, her total out of pocket cost for this incident would be $750.
2. Chronic Illness
Late in the year, Emily starts feeling extremely tired and irritable. When her vision starts getting blurry, she decides to go to the doctor for the first time in recent memory.
After running a few tests, Emily’s doctor diagnoses her with type 1 diabetes. While this is usually diagnosed in early childhood, 1.4 million people over age 20 were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year. With the diagnostic tests, required medication, and glucose meter, Emily’s medical bills total $10,000.
Without health insurance, Emily has to pay the full $10,000 for her care and required medicine.
With health insurance coverage, Emily is able to get a routine checkup early in the year. She receives screening tests that identify her type 1 diabetes. Because the testing takes place as part of her routine exam, Emily is able to begin treatment of her diabetes earlier and with a much lower out-of-pocket bill of only $1,000.
3. Childbirth and family planning
Having a baby can be very expensive. Even without complications or a c-section, the costs of prenatal care and delivery of a child can be $20,000 or more. Emily does not qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This means that Emily will likely need to pay for all costs associated with her pregnancy out of pocket.
With the health insurance plan that Emily is considering, the cost of prenatal care and childbirth drops down significantly, to $3,800. Not only is the cost more manageable, but Emily can feel confident in making sure she receives all the prenatal care she requires without the worry of receiving large surprise bills.
These are just three examples of the endless potential health issues you could encounter. We understand that it’s confusing, which is why we’ve created our health explorer and have a team of agents ready to answer your questions. To see what health insurance plans you qualify for enter your details below.