How to Decide If You Need Health Insurance

I’m about to graduate from grad school and have been hearing a lot about health insurance from some of my family members. As a graduate student, I’ve been able to be on my university’s insurance program; however, that will disappear when I get my diploma. While I know that there is currently a government mandate to have health insurance, I’m not sure exactly how the health insurance marketplace works or even where to begin. I’m relatively healthy and try to go to the gym regularly, is that enough of a reason to avoid expensive health insurance costs?

While the Affordable Care Act in America used to penalize the uninsured when they filed their taxes, that aspect of the legislature was rescinded in 2019 by the Trump administration. In other countries, such as Australia or Canada, universal health care provides Medicare to all residents, allowing anyone to see a doctor or seek treatment in a public hospital and receive benefits. That being said, even countries with universal healthcare like Australia encourage its residents to have private health insurance, too. Through various incentives and penalties, Australia has coaxed an increase in privately insured individuals. Not every country is like this, but it’s important to read up on the laws regarding health care in your country to decide whether or not you can afford to pay the penalties.

While health insurance can be expensive, medical bills or procedures without insurance can be an even pricier event to navigate. Over 70 million Americans are in debt because of medical bills, according to some studies on healthcare. Out-of-pocket expenses have also steadily increased between 2009 and 2017, growing from around $950 to $1,100 in just eight years. The best way to save money on health insurance is to compare health insurance plans. This can help you determine which private health insurance company will fit you and your lifestyle the best.

When you’re looking at plans and comparing their benefits, there are several factors that you should consider. Even if you don’t need to use your insurance for a major medical emergency, having insurance to help you get preventive care can ultimately help you save money over the course of your life. When selecting a health insurance plan, think about your health first. If you are involved in contact sports, that’s something to remember, but sitting at a desk may not be any less risky that high-intensity hobbies either. You’ll want to compare what benefits you need and can afford, too. While a cheap plan may be appealing based on price alone, it ultimately may not offer much value when push comes to shove. At the same time, if your budget is tight right out of school, you may not want a high monthly premium, so getting a plan with a higher deductible might be wise. If you already have a medical condition and are required to see a doctor regularly for routine blood work or other monitoring, it may be better to find a plan with a lower copayment and deductible so that you can start reaping its benefits sooner.

It’s understandable that if you don’t live in a country that mandates health care, you’d want to save money right out of college by foregoing health insurance, but that can put you at risk for incredibly costly procedures. You never know when a trip to the dentist will reveal that you need a root canal, or when you might get diagnosed with a chronic, non-life threatening disease that requires costly medication. In all of these situations, having a good health insurance plan can be the difference between the freedom to live your life the way you want to after graduating and financial ruin. Good luck!

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