We’ve all heard the horror stories—people we know (or maybe only heard of) who go into the hospital and leave with mountains of medical bills. Those stories can get you thinking if you don’t have health insurance.
Do I need health insurance?
The answer—yes! Health insurance is expensive and confusing, but it can also be the only thing standing between you and financial disaster if you ever need medical care. And, oddly enough, health insurance can also be good for your health.
Let’s take a closer look at how health insurance reduces financial and medical risks.
How Health Insurance Reduces Risk
First, let’s go over the potential damage that going without health insurance could cause to your bank account and how health insurance can help you avoid that financial disaster.
While we all know health care costs have skyrocketed, millions of people still go uninsured (that’s probably because health insurance costs have skyrocketed too). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says 30 million U.S. residents did not have health insurance in the first half of 2020.1 Those folks are taking on many risks!
Do you have the right health insurance coverage?
If you have a medical emergency (they’re more common than most people think), and you’re uninsured, you’re taking on the unnecessary financial risk of having to pay enormous medical bills out of your pocket.
Even treatment for a sprained ankle, including doctor visits, X-rays, MRI, medication, medical devices (crutches, brace, etc.), and physical therapy, can save you thousands of dollars.
And if it’s a major medical issue like injuries from a severe car accident or a life-threatening illness, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical debt.
For most people, that’s a devastating financial setback. Health insurance can transfer the risk of medical expenses like these to the insurance company—protecting you from medical bills, you can’t afford.
Going without health insurance is not only risky. It can have medical consequences too. The National Center for Biotechnology Information says uninsured people are less likely to have a regular source of medical care, less likely to see a physician even when they’re very sick, and more likely to delay routine maintenance due to concerns about cost.
Regular medical care starts with annual checkups that can prevent serious illness before it happens. If your primary doctor spots a problem with your health, they’ll recommend additional tests like a mammogram or a blood test to get to the bottom.
Since most people who don’t have health insurance make that decision based on money issues instead of what’s best for their health, they usually don’t have annual checkups for the same reason—it’s too expensive. But skipping routine care can be even more costly than your insurance premiums, especially if you have serious health issues that aren’t caught early.