What Will Happen If I Don't Have Health Insurance?

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As the cost of health care rises, so does the cost of health insurance. The cost of health insurance premiums are outpacing salary increases, according to The Society for Human Resource Management. Many people cannot afford the cost of health insurance, which could lead to limited health care as well as an inability to pay for services from a health care provider.

Costs

  • Though paying health insurance premiums is expensive, for many, the cost of having no health insurance is much more expensive. A lack of health insurance is connected to more than 45,000 deaths in America each year, and the mortality rate of the uninsured is 40 percent higher than the insured, according to a study from Harvard. Additionally, the out-of-pocket costs of uninsured health care are enough to severely limit or bankrupt the finances of many patients. Even a routine preventive health care screenings, such as a colonoscopy, costs an average of more than $3,000 without health insurance. The same procedure is free for insured adults over age 50.

Services and Care

  • If you have no health insurance, you may be turned away if you try to visit a doctor's office or private hospital depending on the health provider's policies and the laws in your state. However, public hospitals that receive funding from city, county, state or federal governments cannot deny you emergency care because of your lack of health insurance or inability to pay for procedures. This doesn't mean, however, that you don't have to pay for the services you receive in an emergency room or hospital.

The Affordable Care Act

  • If you live in any state other than Michigan, the law does not require you to purchase health insurance for yourself and your dependents until January 2014. At that time, The Affordable Care Act will require that all Americans who can afford health insurance and do not claim a religious exemption carry insurance coverage either through work, government-subsidized health plans or private insurance purchased through state insurance exchanges. If you choose not to comply with the health insurance mandate in 2014, you will face a tax penalty to help offset the cost of providing health care to the uninsured.

Considerations

  • You may have health insurance options available to you that you are unaware of. For example, if you are under 26 years of age and do not have access to an employer's group health insurance plan, you can enroll in your parents' health insurance policy as a dependent. You will receive the same insurance coverage and premium rates that minor dependents receive; and if it is an employer group insurance plan, once you age off of the policy at age 26, you may continue coverage for up to three years through COBRA at the cost of a primary policyholder.

    If instead you are uninsured due to a pre-existing health condition that you've been denied coverage for, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 created state and federal pre-existing condition insurance pools that provide comprehensive health insurance to individuals with existing health conditions at affordable rates. Qualifications and rates vary between federal and state insurance pools, but your insurance premium will depend on your age rather than your health.

References

  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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