Do I really need health insurance?

If you’ve never purchased health insurance on your own and don’t deal with many health issues, it may be tempting to forgo coverage to save on premiums. But that may be short-sighted.

Signing up for a health plan during open enrollment may help you save money in the long run and avoid medical debt – an issue faced by 4 in 10 Americans, including millions who owe more than $10,000. In addition, roughly a quarter of Americans don't have emergency savings for a health crisis.

Three reasons to consider enrolling in a medical plan

Sudden illness and emergencies

While you don’t plan to get sick or hurt, you may need health care if you face an unforeseen health issue or accident. Depending on which coverage you choose, your plan may help cover unexpected medical costs. Once you’ve met your deductible, some plans may take care of 60% to 90% of covered expenses, which can add up fast. For instance, a trip to the ER costs an average of $2,600. A three-day hospital stay could cost upwards of $30,000.

Access to preventive care

Insurance also helps cover preventive screenings, like vaccines and annual checkups, which are important for maintaining your overall health. Even if you’re feeling healthy now, preventive-care services may help identify issues in the early stages, before they become more serious.

Tax penalties and savings

While you’re no longer penalized on a federal level for being uninsured, some states still enforce an individual mandate for health insurance. Penalties vary but are often an amount based on your income or a flat rate per adult.

On the other hand, some high-deductible health plans, which can be paired with a health savings account (HSA), offer tax benefits. An HSA has the potential to lower your federal taxable income and produce earnings through interest and investing.

Take the next step

If you’ve decided you will sign up for health coverage when it’s available, get ready by taking a few minutes to review these important tips for open enrollment.

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