Oh, health insurance in America. Don’t get me started. My wife, Lauren, and I have a family policy through her employer that costs us $10,000 a year in premiums and yet we still have a $2,500 deductible, plus co-insurance up to a $10,000 annual out-of-pocket maximum. (What the heck does that all mean? Check here.)
When our 8-month old son, Elliot, got a lung infection earlier this year and was hospitalized for a couple days, our insurance took a bite out of the whopping bills, but we still shelled out over $4,000.
But here’s the thing: We’re still lucky to have insurance. (And in truth, I know friends who pay more than we do for policies with higher deductibles.)
Without insurance, Elliot’s hospital bill would have cost us about $15,000. Considering that’s about what we’ll pay this year in premiums and out-of-pocket costs, if nobody else gets sick this year, it will be a wash. If everybody’s healthy for a year, the insurance company pockets $15 grand, minus the small cost for routine care. But if, God forbid, something really bad happens: An accident or a chronic illness, this insurance will prevent us from going bankrupt when there are even more zeros on the end of the hospital bills.
This is why it’s called insurance.
Trouble is, although it’s cheaper than medical bills, health insurance ain’t cheap.
Nearly 24 percent of 18-25 year old Americas have no health insurance coverage, the highest percentage of any age group, according to Gallup.
Although the legislation that allows those up to age 25 to stay on their parents’ health insurance has reduced that percentage from a peak of over 28 percent, there are still millions of young Americans who have no protection against unforeseen medical bills that can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars.
And though an increasing percentage of Americans are actually buying health insurance on their own, there is still the perception that you have to get health insurance through benefits at work. So for younger adults who are most likely to be students or work several part-time jobs that don’t provide benefits, it can seem like getting health insurance can be impossible.
You may not be able to get (or want to get) a salaried job that provides an employer-paid coverage.
Beginning October 1, 2013, the Health Insurance Marketplace created by Obamacare will make it easier for individuals in every state to get health insurance on their own.
But even now, you can buy health insurance for yourself. And increasingly, you can do it online.
If you’re shopping for insurance on your own, finding a trusted independent insurance agent may still be a good idea, as they’re knowledgeable about the various plans that are available and can help walk you through the complicated jargon involved in comparing plans.
If you’re more the point and click type, two Money Under 30 partners provide health insurance you can buy online.
Cigna HealthCare is a large, global insurance company that offers no-obligation individual health insurance quotes online after answering a few simple questions. Rates will vary by your location and the kind of coverage you select, and (as with any insurer) you may be limited to certain providers.
eHealthInsurance.com is another site that many Money Under 30 readers have successfully used to compare and buy individual health insurance plans ranging from relatively low-cost catastrophic plans to full-featured family plans.
Beginning October 1, every state will have additional options in the form of the new health insurance exchanges that provide individual health insurance with transparent costs. You can get more information about the health insurance exchange in your state here.
Shelling out money for health insurance is painful – as is going to the doctor and realizing that you may still have to pay for visits, tests, or treatments until you hit your deductible. Although the system is far from perfect, it’s helped me to remember that having health insurance doesn’t mean having free healthcare, it simply means that you are protected from going bankrupt should you need serious medical care.
Have you purchased your own health insurance? Where did you go, and how is your plan?