Do I Really Need Health Insurance? Why It’s A Smart Move

This open enrollment period, you may be wondering whether you really need health insurance. Although most people no longer need to worry about paying a penalty for not having coverage, health insurance is still a very important purchase.

The Individual Mandate

After the ACA went into effect, people who did not maintain qualifying health insurance coverage were penalized with a fee known as the shared responsibility payment or the individual mandate penalty. Not all insurance plans counted as qualifying health coverage, although all health insurance plans purchased on the Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace counted.

In 2017, the penalty for not maintaining qualifying health insurance was $695 for each adult and $347.50 for each child or 2.5 percent of the annual household income.

However, this penalty has been eliminated. Starting with tax year 2019, which you will file in 2020, you will not be charged a fee on your federal taxes for failing to maintain qualifying health care coverage.

But be careful. Some states have developed their own individual mandate penalties. If you live in one of these states, you may still have to pay a fee for failing to maintain qualifying health coverage.

Why It’s Still Smart to Buy Health Insurance

Even if you won’t pay a fee for failing to maintain health insurance, you’ll probably be better off with coverage.

For one thing, even though the individual mandate penalty has been eliminated, the premium tax credits are still available for plans purchased on the Marketplace. If you qualify for these tax credits based on your income, you might not have to pay very much to buy coverage. If you don’t qualify for the tax credits, you may be earning enough to afford coverage on your own.

For another thing, even if you’re young and healthy now, this could change at any moment. Although many health problems are more common among older adults, even young individuals can develop cancer, diabetes and other serious health conditions. Injuries are another possible problem. An active individual may break a bone or suffer a concussion while skiing or bicycling, for example. Even a person who isn’t athletic could get injured simply by tripping and falling. For women, pregnancy is also a possibility.

Any number of things could land you in the hospital – and that could leave you with a major bill. The average in-patient hospital stay in the United States costs more than $18,000.

You might be thinking that you’d rather take your chances. Keep in mind, though, that routine care can also be expensive. Without health insurance, many people may decide to skip annual flu shots, regular checkups and important tests. This lack of preventative care can contribute to poor health.

Protect Yourself with Health Insurance

To protect both your wallet and your health, you should consider purchasing health insurance. You can purchase a health plan that meets the ACA’s minimum requirements for essential coverage during the Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment.

Outside of open enrollment, you may qualify for a special enrollment period based on life events. Otherwise, you may be able to buy a policy outside of the Marketplace, such as short-term health insurance policy that will help you fill in a coverage gap. A licensed insurance agent can help you find suitable coverage.  Request a health insurance quote today!

Sources
  • https://www.healthcare.gov/

  • https://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb204-Most-Expensive-Hospital-Conditions.jsp

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