What Happens If I Don't Sign Up for Health Insurance?

The Affordable Care Act does affect people in their twenties. It is important to learn what will happen if you do not sign up for health insurance. The Affordable Care Act is set up to make it easier for people who can't afford health insurance get it. It is an attempt to make health care more affordable. One way it does this is require everyone to have health insurance. This will reduce the number of people who are unable to pay their medical bills, which drives up the cost of health insurance for everyone else. You can avoid the penalties by staying on your parents' insurance or signing up for your own insurance. 

What Happens If I Don't Have Health Insurance?

Doctor and patient
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If you choose not to have health insurance, you will face the fines imposed under the Affordable Care Act. The fines will be due when you file your taxes. In 2016, the fine will be 2.5% of your income. If you make $100,000 you will pay a $2,500 fine. This is a significant fine, and if you do not sign up you need to be prepared to pay the fine. Be sure that you plan for it. The fine is for each individual in your family that does not have health insurance, so it can go up. There are other risks associated with health insurance, and you should consider health insurance a necessity and not a luxury. 

Reasons to Get Health Insurance

While you may not want to spend money on health insurance, there are a wide variety of reasons that you need to get health insurance.

  • It can be very expensive to deal with an unexpected medical emergency like appendicitis or a serious skiing accident. If you end up with a surgery, you will likely pay close to $30,000 for a simple procedure The price will vary depending on your city. If you end up needing to stay at the hospital for an extended period of time, the cost can really add up. 
  •  Medical debt can bankrupt you. The medical debt can negatively affect your quality of life, and having health insurance is one way that you can prevent yourself from facing this type of issue. Many hospitals will work with you to set up a payment plan, but the minimum payments may still be more than you can afford, and it may take you years to pay off the debt. 
  • It also makes it easier to go in to get preventive care so that you do not need more expensive procedures later. Taking care of small things like ear infections or a sinus infection can prevent you from developing complications which may end up sending you to the emergency room or end up in a hospital stay. Your annual health exams can help you catch things early like cancer or other issues before they become more serious and more expensive. 

Are There Affordable Options?

There are a variety of ways that you can get coverage that will not cost that much money. You need to carefully choose the best health insurance policy that is currently available to you. You need to take the time to review your options and choose a policy that will work for you. The most affordable option may be through your state's health insurance exchanges through the Affordable Care Act. In addition to the health insurance exchanges set up by your state, you can look into insurance options through your employer or you can see if you still qualify to be on your parents’ plan if you are under the age of twenty-six. You can also contact an independent health insurance agent to help you find other options if you do not qualify to purchase through your state's health exchanges. 

What Is the Time Frame to Enroll?

The open enrollment period will begin in October 1 , and ends December 15. If you enroll during this time your new coverage will begin on January 1. Enrolling will prevent you from paying the fines. Remember that health insurance will protect you financially, as well. If you truly cannot afford health coverage, you may qualify to have the fine waived. If this is the case, you may want to see if you qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. If you feel like health care is too expensive, then you may want to consider a high deductible health insurance plan. The premium will be lower, and will give you catastrophic coverage in the event of a serious accident or illness. If you do choose this option, you can also set up a Health Savings Account. This allows you to save to cover the deductible tax free. If you miss the deadline to enroll, you will face the fines imposed by the Affordable Care Act.  You can also enroll in independent health insurance throughout the year. An insurance agent can help you determine if the plan meets the basic qualifications.