Health Insurance - To Take or Not to Take: is it worth the risk?


Sam Caldicott


Unlike in Canada and parts of Europe, like Germany and The UK, where most health care costs are supported by the government, most healthy, mentally sound Americans below 65 usually have to rely on their own resources to manage personal health care funding. For most U S citizens, this means building some health insurance into their general personal financial plan.

Nevertheless, over a period of time the costs of health care insurance mount up, and the total cost can be unbelievable. The question is should you take out health insurance? Is it worth the risk not to? Obviously, there isn't an easy answer to these questions, but there are many things you should take into account before coming to a decision about your future health care insurance.

Firstly, almost 15% (around 44 million) US citizens are not covered by any health insurance. Many of these individuals belong to poor families who are not eligible for for Medicaid, employment-based health insurance and have been refused or can't afford personal cover. If you are thinking of getting individual health care insurance cover, make sure you're aware that the costs are usually higher and less user-friendly than plans sponsored by employers.

There are many types of personal or individual private health care insurance available and it's easy to get confused about what kind of health insurance you should buy, and how much cover you should have. You may think you don't need a few hundred thousand dollars worth of medical insurance cover, but think about the cost of one hospital visit if you needed a common, major procedure like heart surgery or even minor surgery to remove tonsils or impacted wisdom teeth. Slight complications can result in a huge medical bill.

If you are lucky enough to get a health benefits package with your employer, you will be accepted under the company's plan whatever the state off your health. But when you apply for individual cover, those guarantees do not apply and you may not gete the cover you need, even by trying for reduced benefits. The same applies when renewing your health care insurance. If you are employed and covered under a company plan, you will be able to renew your coverage as necessary, even if you are ill. Most individual plans have no guarantee that your policy will not be cancelled.

There are differences between employee and individual insurance with regard to limitations and portability. If you have an existing medical condition when you apply for job-related medical cover, there is a limit of around a year to a eighteen months on what can be counted 'against' you. With individual cover however, limits are prescribed by the state, and vary enormously between states. Generally, you may not be eligible for cost cover related to a pre-existing medical condition for the entire duration of your policy.

With portability, depending on the state in which you live, it's possible that you may not receive credit for past cover. This means that even if you qualify for medical insurance, you may have to wait for the whole of the pre-existing condition exclusion period.

Whether you choose job-related, employer-sponsored health insurance or a private, personal plan, health care insurance will cost you much money, particularly if you if you have any ongoing medical issues and/or have a family. tObviously, The total amount will depend on your particular circumstances. It's possible, of course, that you may never need medical attention, in which case you might consider the cost of health care insurance as money wasted.

However, at some time in our lives, most of us need medical attention. Even people with a healthy, positive approach to life have unexpected health issues, accidents and broken limbs. You can never forsee these events, or how severe they will be, but without sufficient financial means or a good health care insurance plan, you could become destitute. Are you willing to take that risk? Being unable to pay for medical services or products that you or a family member may need? Money spent on premiums must be a consideration when deciding whether to buy health care insurance. However, before you make a final decision, there are many other crucial elements to consider.


Sam Caldicott is an insurance advisor based in the USA. She runs a successful advisory service. To get a free report entitled "10 Things to Consider About Insurance", visit http://www.free-insurance-information.net




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