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Question:


Any suggestions for finding low-cost yet fairly good health insurance? I’m pretty healthy, but a dire sickness or accident would probably wreak havoc on my finances.
-HealthyButUninsured


Answer:


I could use some suggestions myself. Health care keeps getting more expensive, and the cost of insurance is rising at an accelerating pace. You don’t say whether your employer provides coverage, but under the Affordable Care Act, employers with at least 50 employees will have to offer an affordable plan to each one beginning next year. If your employer has fewer than 50 employees or if you’re self-employed or feel as though you can’t wait that long, then that is irrelevant, of course.
 
If you’re not covered by a plan at work, or are unlikely to be, then the usual advice for purchasing any product or service – shop around – applies. There are websites such as ehealthinsurance.com that aggregate plans of various providers so you can shop around without moving around. You should also check to see if your state has set up an exchange for buying insurance, another part of the ACA. Few states have done so, however, and I would be surprised if the rates available through the exchanges will be lower than what is available through other means.
 
Perhaps a better way to get the government to help pick up the tab for coverage, by whatever means you obtain it, is to make sure to take any tax deduction that you’re entitled to. If you’re in good health, as you say, then you might want to consider setting up a Health Savings Account, which offers tax breaks on medical expenses for those who buy insurance coverage with a high deductible.
 
Another possibility – and it’s a controversial one – is simply to go without insurance. One reason that costs are climbing at a faster rate these days is the ACA mandate that preexisting conditions no longer be factored into premiums and so healthier people’s premiums must rise to cover some of the cost of care for customers with severe or chronic conditions. Some analysts contend, therefore, that it could make sense for healthier people to forego the purchase of insurance until they come down with a severe ailment themselves. They will have to pay a penalty under the act for going without coverage, but the amount is expected to be far less than the cost of insurance so why not pay it until the insurance is needed? You may prefer not to do this because you don’t want to risk it or because you don’t think it’s fair to others, but it’s something to consider.
-Conrad de Aenlle



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