Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Should you go without health insurance?

These days, hard decisions as to how you're going to get by have to be made on an almost daily basis. Unfortunately, it seems like the most important aspects of our lives are the ones that cost the most. Education, health, and transportation, not to mention housing and food. Why is it that these expenses always seem to be the ones that throw our lives into chaos? The answer to this is far from an easy one to answer, particularly in light of the recently passed "Obamacare" health insurance legislation. Still, even though there are penalties incurred for not carrying insurance, you may find that a better option than paying the outrageous premiums many insurance companies are asking for today.

Politics aside, the health insurance legislation known colloquially as "Obamacare" is a step in the right direction in opening a dialogue about the cost of health care in America. You could spend your life debating the constitutionality of the law's finer points, but then you might miss out on some of the benefits that are to be found there, mostly the health insurance "exchanges" that are supposed to be set up by around 2015. Some states have even begun setting up these exchanges ahead of the federal mandate so as to have everything in place before the deadline, while some state have been dragging their feet for any of a number of reasons. At the end of the day, regardless of which side of the aisle you find yourself, you have to agree that open, available coverage and a range of choices in level of health insurance is a good thing- both for consumers who may be paying 25% or more of their income directly to insurance that they may or may not use at all through the year, particularly if they have an affliction that may not be covered by their particular insurance. The move will help the industry, as well, driving down prices and putting a premium on innovations that will help the companies themselves save money to remain competitive, though the growing pains from such innovation is sure to elicit plenty of bellyaching from companies who squirm at the mere thought of spending money.

Of course, all this discussion brings to light the one reality that is central in much of the conflict over the legislation- whether or not one should be able to choose not to carry insurance at all. According to, as many as 50 million Americans are currently without health insurance of any kind, either because they do not qualify for state assistance, have not sought it, or don't have access to insurance through their employer. As many must know, insurance without those options can be tricky to find, and even more difficult to afford, particularly if you've got a pre-existing medical condition. Forget finding insurance of any kind, too, if you have any form of cancer, HIV, or exotic disease! While you’re at it, consider for a moment that in the strictest definition used by insurance companies, pregnancy is a disease that is considered a pre-existing condition, so if you’re planning on starting a family soon, you’ll want to get yourself into some health insurance quick - those bills can get enormous!

Whatever your spin on the current state of health care in the United States, it’s clear that a change is required to ensure that everyone has access to good, reliable treatment that won’t end up breaking your bank or sending you to the poorhouse. Until that time comes, the health insurance exchanges might just be the place you want to go to check out whether or not you’re really getting a deal on your health insurance. You might be surprised by what you find, and you won’t have to take the kind of life-altering chance that can come along and sneak up on you, since you’ll be prepared with your own health insurance.

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