As I’ve said during the entire month of November, it’s open enrollment season! That means that until December 15th, you can enroll in a health insurance plan. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you have options that are not attached to your employer. So first things first: enroll in a healthcare plan by December 15th! Check out my last three posts to learn more about why you should and how to enroll.
So first things first: enroll in a healthcare plan by December 15th!
My mother has always said that I was born a 35-year-old woman. I say that because I have never felt invincible, and as such, I’ve always wanted to take good care of myself. I get a physical every year, I go to the dentist twice a year, and I almost always go to the doctor if I’m not feeling right.
It’s always shocked me when I meet people who don’t have health insurance because they are “young” and assume that means they are and will remain healthy. Of course, our healthcare system doesn’t make it as easy and affordable as it should to get health coverage. I’m not shaming those who genuinely struggle to afford healthcare; I want to reach those who choose not to buy insurance. Even if you feel like you don’t need it, health insurance is definitely worth paying for.
(But if you do struggle to afford insurance, go to HealthCare.gov to find a plan that works for you and your budget!)
Prevention is key
Like I said last week, preventive medicine is so important. Going to annual medical visits can not only give you peace of mind, but it can catch issues before they get too serious. For example, a basic blood test can discover if your cholesterol is elevated, and you can adopt habits to fix it so you won’t need medication. This applies to many different health issues, both simple and serious, and preventive care can save you money and stress over time (and even save your life).
We all hope we’ll never be the victim of an accident, but we really never know what might happen. Emergency room visits and surgery are incredibly expensive, and are often what put people into massive debt. I’ve heard of people who don’t go to the hospital when they get hurt, because they don’t have health insurance. Not only is this awful for the injured person, but it can also lead to long-term health problems. If you don’t get the immediate care you need, your health issues can worsen over time.
Prescriptions are expensive
Have you ever had to pay for a prescription out of pocket? Medications that might be $10 with insurance can cost at least 10 times that without it. I know many medications are not covered by insurance at all, and others are still prohibitively expensive even with insurance. This needs to change, and hopefully it will in the future (call your reps!). But until then, insurance coverage can make your prescriptions more affordable so that you’re getting the care you need.
Medical debt is real
Medical costs are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Let that sink in. We are the wealthiest country in the world, yet our citizens are regularly going broke when they get sick or injured. Even minor medical issues can break the bank if you don’t have insurance.
Whether you do or don’t have health insurance, you should try to build up an emergency fund. This will protect you financially in the event of an unexpected illness or injury.
It’s our responsibility
I will continue to harp about enrolling in a health insurance plan, and exalt the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. One of the pieces of the ACA that conservatives tend to complain about is the individual mandate. This is the fee that Americans must pay if they can afford health insurance but choose not to enroll in a plan. It is a major function of financing the lower-cost insurance for low-income individuals and families.
You may be asking why you, a healthy person who doesn’t need insurance, should have to pay in order to provide coverage for others. Well, when you’re a member of a society, you don’t exist in isolation. You are one of many of us who are responsible for making our community healthier, safer, and more equal for everyone. It is up to all of us to make our country better. This is why it’s important to get vaccinated. It’s why you are required to get car insurance in almost all states (which I don’t often hear people screaming about and trying to repeal).
The more people who have health insurance covered, the better off we’ll be. More people will be healthier over time, which means costs will eventually go down. People with chronic and/or serious illnesses will get the care they need, which will decrease the financial and emotional strain on their families. These are all good things that are good for our nation as a whole! So whether or not you think you need health insurance, find a plan that works for your needs and your budget, and sign up today.
Have you been protected from financial ruin due to your health insurance? Have you been on the other side and ended up in medical debt? Share your story in the comments!
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.