At the risk of seeming like I am harping on a subject that I have already written about several times, here we go again. Health insurance. If you don't have a policy, you need to get one. And November 1 begins the period of open enrollment (a window which closes in mid-January). This is something to act on now, and not put off till later.
According to a recent article in the Columbian newspaper (published on November 1, 2015), there are still hundreds of thousands of people across the nation who could be getting free or low-cost insurance. In Washington state, the place to begin your search to see if you may qualify is www.wahealthplanfinder.org.
Even where there is auto insurance or homeowners insurance that can be tapped into to defray the cost of medical bills, a good health care policy can be marshaled by an experienced attorney to work in conjunction with the other benefits available in a manner that will work to the substantial advantage of the injured victim…”
Besides the commonsense consideration of the importance of health insurance to all of us, consider this warning from the article just printed in the Columbian: “Everyone who doesn't have health insurance in 2016 – either through work or on their own – will face a bigger fine for failing to obey the rules of the Affordable Care Act. The fine goes up to $685 a year or 2.5% of annual income – whichever is greater – for each person.”
From my perspective, the concern should not so much be whether you will be fined, but whether you will even have access to healthcare should you encounter turbulence in the course of your daily life over the next year. And let's face it, unfortunately, we are all at risk for injury out there in our daily lives. Almost every day of the week I visit with people who have been hurt in a car crash, run down as a pedestrian, hit while riding a bicycle, bitten by a dog, etc. Often there is no coverage, or at least not enough insurance, available to my clients from traditional sources (such as personal injury protection benefits, liability insurance, underinsured motorists benefits, homeowners insurance, no fault medical benefits, disability coverage), especially given the high cost of healthcare nowadays (where a two or three day hospital stay involving trauma management and a surgery or two, for example, can cost $80,000 to $100,000 or more).
Our job as attorneys – of trying to help our injured clients get their lives put back together and to extricate them from the financial complications created by the trauma and chaos of a severe injury, is much more doable in situations where there is health insurance coverage. Even where there is auto insurance or homeowners insurance that can be tapped into to defray the cost of medical bills, a good health care policy can be marshaled by an experienced attorney to work in conjunction with the other benefits available in a manner that will work to the substantial advantage of the injured victim of a car wreck, pedestrian or bicycle accident, or dog bite.
So please, if you don't have a health insurance policy in place already that will cover you for 2016, let me urge you – sit down today, power up your computer or tablet, and begin your Internet research.
As they say, an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure. The bonus being, of course, come tax time, if you have done your homework and managed to get covered by a health insurance policy, you won't be penalized by the IRS for having been uninsured in 2016.