Why Do You Need Health Insurance?
With the Affordable Care Act mandating that most Americans purchase health insurance, some people – especially those who are young or healthy – are questioning why they need coverage at all.
“Like auto insurance, health insurance is a service you pay for but hope you will never need. It’s there for the unpredictable, unexpected and fundamentally uncontrollable problems that come up in people’s lives,” says Dr. Molly Cooke, a practicing internist who is past president of the American College of Physicians and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Most consumers want and value health insurance, but they can’t afford the coverage or have been shut out from the marketplace because they have pre-existing medical conditions, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Consider these factors when deciding whether to buy health insurance. Without coverage:
You may need to pay a penalty.
Most Americans who can afford health insurance should have it by Jan. 1, 2017 or will need to pay a tax of $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of annual income (whichever is greater).
You risk financial ruin.
You may be healthy now, but the onset of a sudden or serious illness (cancer, diabetes, appendicitis) or a traumatic event (ski accident, car crash) can leave you with staggering medical bills. The inability to pay high medical bills, one of the most common reasons people file for personal bankruptcy, can ruin your credit history and set you back for years.
You won’t have access to preventive care and primary care.
The law requires insurers to cover annual checkups and preventive care – mammograms, vaccinations, colonoscopies and prostate cancer screenings – without a copay. That means you’re more likely to stay healthy and catch health problems early, when they’re easier and less expensive to treat. Policies also must provide a minimum standard of care known as essential health benefits in 10 categories: preventive and wellness services, ambulatory (outpatient) care services, emergency care, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, pediatric care, mental health and substance use disorder services, prescription drugs and rehabilitative and habilitative services (specialized therapies and medical equipment to help people facing long-term disabilities).