The most frequent question I hear regarding health insurance is “Why do I need it? It’s expensive, and hardly pays for anything.” Did you know that the #1 reason for bankruptcy in the US is unprotected medical claims? And it’s not the $75 office visit that bankrupts you, it’s the hospital stay or cancer treatments – those big, unexpected accidents or medical diagnoses. So it’s not only important to have coverage, but it’s important to have the right coverage with no top-end limits to ensure the insurance company will pay your bills no matter how much they cost.
Unfortunately, if you wait until you have a problem to get insurance coverage, it’s probably too late. The whole concept of insurance, whether for your health, your home, or your car, is to have it ready and waiting when you need it – you hope you won’t need it, but it’s there if you do.
You might be surprised at what you can afford. There are many different options to fit within your budget.
Health insurance is available in 4 different ways.
- Government-provided plans: Medicare for 65 & older, Medicaid if you’re lower income
- Employer-provided plans: usually great if your employer pays for a significant portion of your premium
- Marketplace plans (also called ACA and Obamacare): “guaranteed issue” plans are available to everyone and do not consider pre-existing conditions. However, this makes them expensive for healthy people unless you qualify for a substantial tax credit. These plans offer no choice in plan design – the options are set and often change from year-to-year. Also, provider choice is restrictive because they utilize limited networks. These plans are the best option for some situations.
- Private health plans: Utilize nation-wide PPO networks, offering significant choice in healthcare providers and flexibility in benefit design. These plans are excellent for healthy individuals who are looking for less-expensive options, and don’t want to have to change their health insurance every year. I have one of these plans myself!