If you have private health insurance the continually rising premiums you pay may have you wondering whether or not it’s worth it. That’s a question that each individual consumer will have to answer for himself. What it really comes down to is whether or not you want to assume the risk of paying your own healthcare bills in the event something catastrophic occurs.
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Individuals who choose not to carry their own private health insurance have one of two options: pay for all of their health care needs on their own, or apply for a public option like Medicaid health insurance or Medicare. Proponents of universal health insurance claim the first option is unacceptable because it will mean those who don’t have insurance will pass their costs on to someone else. Critics of universal care likewise claim that public options drive up the cost of health insurance because money is being wasted.
Cost of Private Health Insurance
According to a CNN Money report from May 2011, the cost of health insurance for a family of four was pegged at just under $20,000 annually. That represents a 100% increase over the last decade; a number that is astounding when you consider the average rate of inflation over that same decade is approximately 2.43%.
If health insurance costs followed the annual rate of inflation they would be close to $11,500 annually for a family of four.
One of the more interesting aspects of private health insurance is the fact that most people who get coverage through their employers have no idea of the actual cost. For example, an employee may pay between $500 and $700 per month for health insurance. That person is probably unaware that his employer pays in excess of $1100 a month toward that same group health insurance policy.
Should I purchase health insurance if I go to the doctor? This is a common question among people who consider themselves healthy. These types of individuals are typically in their early 20s to early 30s, with a good education and steady job. As the reasoning goes, why sink $500 per month into a health insurance policy you have no intention of using? It’s a legitimate question until something serious happens.
When you don’t have health insurance and are facing a life-threatening situation, hospitals and clinics are required by law to provide lifesaving care regardless of your ability to pay. That means no one in the United States will be allowed to die because they don’t have health insurance. However, an uninsured individual will be forced to pay for his medical expenses of his own pocket or, if he can’t afford it, apply for Medicaid coverage.
Most hospitals and clinics will work with uninsured patients to set up payment plans that are easily affordable.
High Deductible Health Insurance Plan
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are uninsured because you choose not to buy insurance, you do have some affordable health insurance plan options should you change your mind. The first option is to purchase a policy which covers only major medical issues and comes with high deductibles and lower coverage limits. This type of policy, also known as catastrophic care or major medical, used to be the standard in health insurance prior to the HMO Act of 1973. This type of policy would cover major expenses like heart attacks and cancer treatments, but not routine doctor visits and vaccinations.
Another option is to purchase a low cost mini-med plan known in the industry as a “junk plan.” These mini-med plans can be had for a couple of hundred dollars per month in most states. Consumer Reports suggests consumers be very cautious when considering this type of health insurance. Often times the amount of coverage they provide is so limited that they are not even considered true health insurance by the federal government.
Public Healthcare Plans
Should I consider enrolling in a public healthcare plan? If you absolutely cannot find affordable health insurance plans you are welcome to apply for the federal Medicaid program or a state subsidized health insurance plan. These plans all have income restrictions based on family size, so you may not qualify for as much coverage as you’d hoped. However, any health insurance is better than no health insurance at all.
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