Who Needs Health Insurance?

Everyone should be covered by some form of health insurance. People are always vulnerable to injury and illnesses from their everyday activities. Whether it is an individual plan or employer- or government-sponsored coverage, having health insurance is better than not having it at all. Millions of Americans are uninsured in part due to high premium costs. Many are forced to pay these high health costs out of pocket, which can create more problems medically and financially.

The Facts

According to the National Coalition on Health Care, 46 million Americans were uninsured in 2007. The uninsured racked up $26 billion of the 2.2 trillion spent on health care in 2007. However, one-third of them couldn't afford to pay their share of medical costs. There are some tax advantages associated with paying for health care. If the premiums exceed 7.5 percent of your income, then your payments become tax deductible. If you participate in an employer-sponsored health plan, known as a cafeteria plan, usually your share of the premiums are taken out before your money is taxed, making it tax-free.

Benefits

Having health insurance gives the insured the opportunity to seek medical attention when they get injured or come down with an illness without footing the entire cost. Health insurance provides the insured a means to receive preventive care that can maintain or improve their health. The insured are likely to find major problems such as diabetes and all forms of cancer in their early stages and get medical care by having routine medical physicals that are covered by their insurance.

Types

There are four types of medical insurances available, and two--Medicaid and Medicare--are entitled to the public. The two individual health plans, managed care and indemnity, boasts two different philosophies on health care. Managed care plans promote cost-effective heath coverage by encouraging its members to receive care among a network of physicians who are contracted to be efficient while servicing their patient's health. Indemnity health plans allows the insured to have maximum freedom to decide how to receive their health care. These plans reimburse the insured by up to as much as 100 percent of the claim; however, these plans are more expensive than the other. Medicare and Medicaid provide most of their coverage free to everyone who meet certain guidelines. Medicare is usually offered to people over 65, while some exceptions may lower the age bracket. There are two main parts, A and B, with Part B being paid for with monthly premiums. Medicaid is for low-income or disabled people who wouldn't be able to afford or meet the standards of individual health plans.

Misconceptions

Those who don't frequently go to the doctors and are in good health may feel like paying hundreds or even thousands in health premiums may be a waste of money. However, being without coverage can lead to bigger financial problems. The thousands of dollars spent on premiums soften the costs of medical operations that may cost them thousands more at a financially inopportune time. Unfortunately, some doctors and hospitals could turn them away from receiving care if it isn't an emergency situation.

Warning

Not having health insurance runs the risk of damaging one's health by not receiving care when it was needed because of the costs that would be incurred. However, between 30 and 50 percent of uninsured Americans are likely to be hospitalized with an avoidable condition. It costs the uninsured about $3,300 for the hospital stay from a condition that could've been prevented. If a major medical operation is needed and there was no medical coverage available, the costs could be catastrophic enough to put one into bankruptcy.

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