Going uninsured

What happens if I don't buy insurance?

There are many benefits to having insurance – cheaper health care, access to hospitals and doctors, free preventative care, protection from financial risk, and the list goes on. But what if you decide not to buy insurance?

  1. You pick up the tab. Without insurance, you have to pay the full cost of your care. This can be a problem for three reasons.

  2. You'll skimp on care: When you know you will be required to pay the full bill, the psychological barrier to going to the doctor is much higher. If you skip getting the care you need, illnesses and injuries will take longer to heal. Symptoms linger, resulting in missed work (which can cost you money, or even your job) or missed opportunities to enjoy life with family and friends. Insurance plans enable you to get the care you need at a reasonable cost.

  3. Little problems can turn into big ones: But it gets worse… what if that sore throat and small headache is an undiagnosed case of pneumonia? Because uninsured individuals rarely receive preventative care (which is 100% free if you have insurance) or visit the doctor when they have a problem, small annoyances can turn into life-threatening diseases or chronic illnesses. At that point, the massive bills can run into the millions of dollars, though they will likely be the least of your worries!

  4. An emergency could bankrupt you: Sure, if you're uninsured you can save money by avoiding the doctor, but what if you don't have a choice in the matter? Perhaps you are in a car accident and rushed to the ER in an ambulance? Without insurance, the medical bills when you get out of the hospital would be staggering. Just the ambulance ride alone could cost over $1000.

This past year, CNN reported that an estimated 1.7M people will file for bankruptcy as a result of unpaid medical bills. Another 20% of the US population will struggle to make their health care payments. Do you want to risk being one of them? Health insurance gives you the peace of mind by capping your financial risk in the event of a serious illnesses and emergencies. That way you can focus on getting better rather than worrying about the bills you'll have to pay when you get out of the hospital.

  1. You pay a fine: Under new health care law (known as the Affordable Care Act or commonly as "Obamacare"), every American is required by law to have health insurance. If you break the rules, you will be required pay an annual penalty when you file your taxes. How much? In 2016, the fine is $695, or approximately 2.5% of your income, whichever is higher.