What are the biggest risks that you face if you do not have health insurance?
- Illness could bring financial drain or ruin
- If you want insurance later, you may not be able to get coverage for any pre-existing conditions (however, there are some states that guarantee that coverage will be available and don’t allow pre-existing conditions)
- Statistically higher risk of dying - perhaps due to putting off visits
Let's look at these risks in more detail.
Illness could bring financial drain or ruin.
If you've worked hard and saved enough to buy a car, a house, or are saving towards these goals, a medical problem could wipe out your progress. Imagine that you've had an accident around the house, perhaps fallen while cleaning leaves from the gutters. If you hurt your back, and require a spinal fusion, on average you might expect to have bills of $59,851 (see item 27 on Medical Cost by Principal Procedure ). If you don't have insurance, you can expect to be billed, and held responsible for the full amount. If you don't have money saved to cover this expense, and cannot work out a payment plan when you're able to work again, then you might have to sell your cars or home to pay for the medical expenses. If you still cannot pay the amount, or are unable to support yourself financially, you might end up in bankruptcy court. Then you'll have to start all over again, saving, with a big credit blemish.
If you want insurance later, you may not be able to get coverage
Except in states with community rating, you are likely to be "medically underwritten" for health insurance if you buy it as an individual. This means that an insurer will take a look at your medical history and current health status to determine if you are eligible for coverage and at what price. In some cases, you won't be denied coverage, but you could face stiff premiums. This happens for people who have had cancer, diabetes, and a number of other significant medical conditions. Sometimes an agent can help you to find coverage, and in some cases you may be eligible for state programs that target people in your condition. But in a significant number of cases, the premiums charged by insurers make moderate earners take the risk of no health insurance, while the government programs do not provide assistance because you earn too much.
You have a statistically higher risk of dying
According to the Institute of Medicine, people who don't buy health insurance may put off essential visits to the doctor, leading to detection of disease at later stages. When disease is diagnosed and treated at later stages, healthy outcomes are less certain, and the conditions may worsen and lead to an early death. The lesson here is that even if you don't buy health insurance, you should still make visits to the doctor for preventative care or at the first signs of a problem.
Learn more in the book Get a Good Deal on Your Health Insurance Without Getting Ripped-Off available through book retailers, and Health Insurance Book + Resources for Consumers at www.BestHealthInsuranceBook.com.