Is it Ok to be uninsured?
Having health insurance is not a requirement; in fact, the penalty that was once enforced for not having health insurance was removed at the federal level per the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017. As a result, many people—especially the self-employed—find themselves asking “Is it OK to be uninsured?” While you won’t face a fine for not carrying health insurance, the real answer is “no”.
Being uninsured can have unforeseen (and unmitigated) impacts to your wallet and your health. We’ll walk through the reasons why many people choose to go without health insurance coverage as well as the risks of doing so.
Why People Choose to be Uninsured
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report, the number of uninsured people is on the rise, increasing roughly 700,000 to 27.4 million people in 2017. A 2017 KFF survey shows that the number one reason people go without health insurance is because of the costs. Just under half (45%) said this was the reason they are uninsured. Other reasons people opt out of coverage include:
- Not having access to healthcare coverage through a job
- Living in a state that did not expand Medicaid
- Lacking eligibility for financial assistance in getting coverage
- Being unaware that they qualify for financial assistance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Risks of Being Uninsured
The risks of being uninsured are numerous, but the biggest risks are to your health and to your finances.
Health Risks Avoiding proper healthcare – The KFF survey showed that almost a quarter (24%) of people who are uninsured will postpone seeking healthcare because of the high costs associated with it. Obviously, this is not advisable as existing health issues can become much worse over time.
Missing needed medication – Prescription drugs are expensive and rising in cost. Without health insurance, many drugs become unaffordable to those that need them most. The KFF survey reports that almost one-fifth (19%) of people without health insurance delay or don’t purchase drugs they need because of the cost. This can exacerbate health issues that require medication.
Financial Risks High healthcare costs – Without health insurance, you face much higher healthcare bills than you would if you were covered by a plan.
Inability to pay medical bills/debt – Without healthcare coverage, uninsured people find that they face medical costs they are unable to pay. The Washington Post notes the cost of hospital stays alone, which can cause debt among the uninsured to the tune of $20,000. If a person is unable to pay, these bills eventually get sent to collection agencies, where the debt has an impact on credit reports.
Medical bankruptcy – A CNBC report from a few years ago reported that medical bankruptcies were the top reason for bankruptcy, even outpacing those related to credit card bills. The reality is that high healthcare costs without an insurance plan can put a financial strain that is too heavy to bear on many individuals.
Better Options Than Being Uninsured
Get Affordable Coverage The ACA has made it easier for people to find affordable coverage. In many cases, people may qualify for subsidies that can ease the cost of coverage. These subsidies are determined by looking at yearly income and its relation to the federal poverty level (FPL). People who have an income between 100% and 400% of the FPL may qualify for some type of assistance towards monthly premiums. In addition to the government exchanges, some may opt to buy a health care plan through an online brokerage. Many ACA plans are available through these portals at an affordable rate.
Your best bet is to jot down you own unique consideration when shopping for health insurance. Write down your medical history, other health considerations, your family’s needs, and any necessary medications. You can also use our Health Insurance Shopping Checklist to help you get started.
Enroll in Health Insurance for the Self-Employed Decent offers affordable, comprehensive health insurance options for the self-employed. If you live in Texas, work as a freelancer or other self-employed individual, and are looking for a bronze or silver plan, check out our plans.
Trailblazer Plan Our Trailblazer silver plan is ideal for freelancers who make over $55,000 in income each year, especially those with families. The plan includes low or no copays for care before you’ve hit your deductible. Most people find that our plan is less expensive than other traditional silver plans available on the exchanges.
Pathfinder Plan Our Pathfinder plan is ideal for those who want a higher-deductible, higher out-of-pocket plan that is less expensive overall. The Pathfinder plan is simple, straightforward, and our most affordable option.
Since our mission is to keep people healthy and help them build relationships with their primary care doctors, all plans include free primary care. That means you pay $0 to see your primary care doctor, whenever you want.
Other benefits include:
Visit us today to get your free quote so you don’t have to worry about the unnecessary risks of being uninsured.