Obligation or Opportunity?

health costsThe idea of not having health insurance scares me.  I remember a time when I ended one job on a Friday (October 20), and my new job started on Monday (October 23). I was worried – asked questions: “what if something happened over that weekend?”  I don’t remember which insurance plan covered those two days, but I do remember that I received assurance that I was covered.

Beginning in 2014, everyone is required to be insured (with a just few exemptions from the penalty).  While that is an obligation, it is also an opportunity!

As I see it, health insurance is a safety net – one that has always been really important to me.  Even healthy young people can find themselves needing serious (and expensive) medical care.  Accidents happen, and so do illnesses that can cause hospitalization and tremendous costs.  Even a healthy pregnancy involves significant medical costs.  Currently the average cost for a 3-day  hospital stay is $30,000; the cost of a broken leg: $75,000.    Most people, regardless of age, are not prepared to take on the cost of a serious medical problem  – whether it’s $20,000 or $200,000 or $2 million.

The main reason young adults have been without health insurance has been cost.  Beginning in 2014, cost will be less of a problem, since assistance with paying health insurance premiums will be available to people with incomes up to about $45,000 (single adult) or more (based on family size).  A single adult with income under $20,000 will pay little or nothing for health insurance – as income rises, people pay more on a sliding scale.

To me, getting health insurance is a no-brainer.  No matter what my situation, I will always want health insurance if I can possibly get it.  I hope that young adults are not turned off by the fact that it’s now an obligation – I hope they instead focus on the opportunity to protect themselves from disastrous health costs. 

For more information on health insurance changes, here are some reputable resources:  www.healthcare.gov;  http://www.extension.org/pages/68659/health-insurance-faqs;  http://kff.org/health-reform/


Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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One thought on “Obligation or Opportunity?

  1. I see this as a huge opportunity to those who really need it the most. Health care costs have done nothing but go up and became almost impossible for the uninsured to afford. Although there will be some social disruption at first, the benefit will eventually out-weigh these issues.

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