kids on corner of yard for unaffordable health insurance

The Unaffordable Health Insurance Myth

This article is an original article from January 5, 2009.  It was written by Nick Perry.

“All that is available for me is unaffordable health insurance!” or “I can’t afford health insurance!”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard that when I used to work in a doctor’s office as an insurance benefits specialist. Know what else I can’t tell you? How many people walked out of our doors followed by phone calls, letters, and eventually collections agents and bankruptcy attorneys. What these people truly couldn’t afford was to not have health insurance.

The cost of health care can be astronomical. Accidents happen, critical illness strike, and they generally don’t have the manners to call a week ahead of time to let you know they’ll be visiting. Are you one of the people who says they don’t have health insurance because they can’t afford it – but hey, it’s not like you plan on getting sick anytime soon, right?

Stop reading this article right now. Get in your car, go to the nearest hospital emergency room, and ask how many people there were planning on getting sick. Ask how many of them were planning on having an accident that day. See the guy with the appendix that’s about to rupture? He’ll be getting a bill for over ten thousand dollars in the mail before too long. The kid in the corner who fell off of his bike and whose parents don’t have health insurance coverage? That broken arm is going to cost at least a hundred bucks to evaluate, plus another $175 per x-ray (and they’ll probably do two or three), plus casting fees (triple the cost if the doctor deems a waterproof cast necessary), plus follow-up visits (at least one, at at least $125), plus cast removal (another $150 or more), plus physical therapy if he needs it. The thirty-five year old guy who didn’t realize he had an almost complete arterial blockage until he had a heart attack – forget it. If he survives, he’s bankrupt. If he doesn’t make it, his family will be.

If your budget is truly so tight that you don’t think you can afford health insurance, then take a close look at where your money is going. Ask yourself this: what is going to truly ruin our family, an extra set, steady charge each month that we can plan and budget for, or a sudden crush of medical bills?

I can’t emphasize this enough. You should be looking to save money on the cost of your health care, not your health insurance. Sure, you can adjust your deductible and coinsurance levels. You can eliminate a copay from your plan, like we talked about in another article. But you simply cannot afford to go without health insurance – it’s a gamble, and it’s one that may work for a while, but it’ll get you in the end. The bottom line is this: no matter your situation, you need health insurance. If you’re self employed or own your own business, the costs of a medical emergency can cripple your financial infrastructure and run your business into the ground. If you have a family, you owe it to your children and your spouse to protect them from financial devastation. Even if it’s just you, modern day hero, a healthy young man or woman going it alone, bankruptcy can ground your dreams and take years to claw your way out of. You don’t go broke because you have a monthly premium to pay. You don’t go broke because you’ve factored a set, predictable monthly cost into your budget. If you go broke, it’s going to be because you got slammed with a hundred thousand dollar medical bill and don’t have insurance coverage that will pay for it.

The reason many people think they can’t afford insurance is because they think health insurance is an all-or-nothing proposition. Either you get the $750 a month policy that covers absolutely everything at no cost past premiums or it’s just not worth paying for. This simply isn’t the case. Now, don’t get me wrong; if you have room in your budget for the high-end policy and you, with the counsel of your local independent agent, decide that that’s the level of coverage you need, then that’s what you should buy. But for the vast majority of people, a policy that robust simply isn’t necessary. What’s the point of paying for coverage you simply don’t need? Think about it this way: what’s the point of buying a Hummer with Swarovski crystal rims and velvet airbags when all you want to do is drive to McDonalds?

The reality is, you probably don’t need a plan that has a $10 co-pay for all services with no deductible, no out-of-pocket cost, and 100% coverage. The reality is, you can probably get the coverage you need at a lower price than you think! Your local independent agent will know what plans offer the proper level of coverage while still bringing an affordable price to the table. The fact is, no matter what your budget, there’s a health plan out there that will work for you. Think about your car insurance. It covers you in the event of an accident, right? Do you have car insurance for that day you have an accident, or do you have car insurance to cover your oil changes, new wiper blades, air in the tires, and the occasional wash? Can you imagine how much more expensive your car insurance would be if it covered those things? Health insurance works the same way! Eliminate the benefits you don’t need, put the money you save on premiums away, improve your financial situation, enjoy the peace of mind that comes with comprehensive coverage, and everybody wins.

Save money on the cost of health care, not by eliminating health insurance from your budget. It’s a gamble that you, your business, and your loved ones will pay for when – not if – you lose. Your local independent health insurance agent can help you find the plan that will give you the coverage you need at the price you can afford. As always, you can use the links on this website to contact me with any questions or concerns. If you have a matter that requires immediate attention, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call!


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