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Use Your Health Insurance!

Finding affordable health insurance is one of the most important financial decisions you can make in your twenties. Using that health insurance is another.

Young adults are the “least insured” group in America. We have plenty of excuses: We’re students, we’re either unemployed or employed in jobs that don’t provide health insurance, we’re poor, and, of course, we’re mostly healthy. Unfortunately, we also use that last excuse to justify not using health insurance even when we have it.

And that’s a big mistake. Not only for our health, but also for our wallet.

Under most affordable health insurance plans in America (whether employer sponsored or purchased individually), our out-of-pocket costs for preventative health care are minimal. There might be a $20 copay for a visit to the doctor’s office and another for a prescription.

When it comes to medical emergencies and the treatment of chronic conditions, however, our out-of-pocket costs skyrocket. Under many affordable health insurance plans, for example, ER visits cost us $50, $100, even $150. Many plans will also require an out-of-pocket payment for hospital stays, up to an annual deductible.

Of course, some emergencies and hospitalizations aren’t preventable. But many are. Seeing your doctor regularly—or at the first sign of a potential problem—could at least save you the difference between a $20 office visit and a $150 ER visit.

Plus, there’s another good reason to use your health insurance: The possibility that you’ll become uninsured.

For example, if you rely on your employer’s health insurance plan and suddenly become unemployed, you may not be able to afford continued coverage through COBRA or other affordable health insurance options. Although it’s always best to find carry kind of affordable health insurance (even if it’s just a minimal policy), the more you use your health insurance when you have it, the more secure you’ll be in your health should you face a period without insurance.

So if you’re worried about losing your job (and insurance) or anticipate making a life change that will leave you uninsured, get in to see a doctor while you are still covered. Hopefully, the doc will give you a clean bill of health. In the worst case, he or she will alert you to potential health problems that you can either manage carefully if you have to go without health insurance or make you think twice about going uninsured.

If you are unemployed or anticipate losing your job, read How (and Why) to Get Health Insurance When Unemployed. Looking for an affordable health insurance plan on your own? Check out health insurance quotes from eHealthInsurance.com.

Published or updated on July 10, 2009

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Brian says:

    This is a pointless article to some extent. If you go to the doctor and they find something, this will become a “pre-existing” condition that Obamacare has not quite yet resolved (this part has not become law yet). Also, the article doesn’t bother to mention that while a doctors visit might only be $20 co-pays – you generally could have a $2500 deductible that you must pay first before insurance kicks in and maybe even a prescription deductible separately before prescriptions are paid. Truth be told, if you feel you are sick or just want to discuss a pre-existing condition – do it “off record” meaning don’t use your insurance and just pay out of pocket. Now you will get the best of both worlds – use your insurance only when you must and make sure you have the best value for your dollar. These insurance companies should be outlawed… ahem excuse me “gunned down”. :-)

  2. I need to start taking advantage of my health insurance benefits. I never go to the doctor because I don’t want to spend the co-pay money. At the age of 28, I am also guilty of having a false sense of invincibility.

    *Plus limited Chiropractic and massage therapy is covered*

    -Dan Malone-

  3. insurance says:

    I love reading this article, a very informative one. Nice article.

  4. Affacturage says:

    Greed, Wall Street, or whatever couldn’t explain why all of a sudden greed was given free rein and why the collapse affected everyone at once. Remember the past, when a bank or business that failed, by not making financially sound decisions, only hurt a very small localized group, and remember when it wasn’t so easy to get a home loan or credit card unless you passed all the strict guidelines and there also were financially sound limits based on your income.

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