Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance plans for individuals “open enrollment” extends from November 1, 2020 through December 15, 2020 (these dates for the federal market window; some states have longer enrollment periods).
This is a blog that I tend to re-write every year. I apologize for the repetitiveness of it. No, on second thought, I don't. It's just incredibly important. Health insurance is critical. There may be a debate as to the wisdom of having other types of insurance. Like: How much liability insurance do you need to carry? (Well, what assets do you have to protect?) Should you buy life insurance? (Well, are there going to be loved ones deprived of needed support if you are taken out unexpectedly?) What about fire insurance, earthquake insurance, flood insurance, cyber insurance, or . . .
Go ahead and wrestle with those questions about other types of insurance, and decide what you will.
But health insurance is a no brainer. If you don't have it, get it. If you have coverage but are concerned you don't have a good health insurance policy, upgrade – improve it if you can possibly afford to do so.
First, access. I shouldn't have to point out the necessity of access to good medical care. Regular screening helps to catch problems before they become life-threatening. Once symptoms from a medical condition become apparent, prompt attention to them is important so that they don't change from being curable to fatal. If you have health insurance, you are more likely to get in for screening, or get in promptly when you notice a problem, and to then follow up with what often may be expensive care when it's needed. Why? Simply because you will have confidence that the great bulk of the cost will be covered by your health insurance.
Second, cost. This is perhaps the flipside of the access coin, but it is an important point to emphasize all the same. Medical care today is unquestionably costly, and getting more so all the time. As an example (and by the way I happen to know this from recent personal experience), one day in the hospital for a surgery will run in excess of $50,000 at one of our two local Clark County hospitals. A person with a good health insurance plan however may only have to pay $1,000 or less of that cost, with the bulk of the difference being paid by health insurance at a pre-contracted-for discounted rate, and any difference being written off by the medical provider. Annual checkups or routine office visits with primary care providers or specialists that typically cost several hundred dollars are almost always covered by health insurance, often times with just a $20 co-pay. Prescription drug costs, instead of sometimes being astronomical, are likewise made so much more affordable if a patient has decent health care coverage.
Third, pandemic. We are yet in the midst of a wave of surging novel coronavirus infections – locally, nationally, and globally. Hopefully you haven't caught it and won't get COVID-19, but if you do, wouldn't it be enormously helpful to know that the bulk of the cost of any medical advice or inpatient care you may want or need to seek to avoid becoming one of the fatality statistics will be paid for by health insurance?
Fourth, injury claims. As many of the prior blogs that have been posted to this website have previously explained, when any one of us gets injured in a car accident, even though there are other types of coverages that might assist with the medical bills, they often come up short as to sufficient policy limits. Being covered by health insurance will make sure that injury-related medical bills will all get paid. And when it comes time to pay the health insurance company back from whatever settlement or other recovery ends up being made from the liability insurer, often times the reimbursement amount will be significantly less than the full amount of the original medical bills.
So, if you aren't on health insurance through your employment, aren't covered by state health or on Medicare or a good Medicare advantage plan, and if you don't have a personal plan in place already, what are you waiting for? Take the time, do the research. Take advantage of open enrollment, and get signed up for health insurance. On this I have every confidence, you'll be glad you did.
[For more on the window for ACA open enrollment this year, see the article in last week's Oregonian newspaper entitled, “Health Insurance: Open Enrollment Starts Soon”, published Sunday, November 1, 2020, Section D, page 3.]