I didn't buy health insurance...now what?!
So, you didn't buy health insurance and now you’re feeling guilty? Here are some options:
Have a Baby
Seriously, though...if you want more comprehensive coverage, there are a lot of qualifying events that allow you to sign up for health insurance throughout the year. These events include adopting a child, getting married or divorced, moving, leaving your job, getting out of jail (um, legally…), and more. Get the full list here.
Purchase Short-Term Insurance
Short-term health insurance is the most basic coverage, meant to protect you against major medical debt in case of emergencies. It’s designed to fill in those gaps when you temporarily don’t have regular coverage. For this reason, it’s generally effective the day after you purchase it and lasts less than a year--usually around 6 months.
Keep in mind that because it’s temporary coverage, you may be left without health insurance at some point. It’s also worth noting that it doesn’t cover preventative care or pre-existing conditions, so it doesn’t meet the requirements for “minimum essential coverage;” this means you’ll still get fined by the government for going “uninsured” when you file your 2015 taxes next April. (Awesome, we know.)
TL;DR -- it’s not ideal, but it’ll save your wallet if you end up in the ER.
Planning on just waiting it out until Open Enrollment starts again in November? There are still ways to get basic medical care:
- Walgreens Take Care Clinics: For vaccines, physicals, screenings, and minor illnesses/procedures, these clinics have low fixed prices that you pay with cash or card (no insurance necessary). Check out their price menu here.
- CVS Minute Clinics: Like the Walgreens clinics, these locations will provide basic services for lower costs that you can pay for out-of-pocket. Prices vary depending on how many conditions you have and/or services you need, but CVS gives you a pretty good idea with their list of price ranges.
- Planned Parenthood: For women’s care of any kind, Planned Parenthood tends to set its rates on a sliding scale system, which means prices depend on your income and family size. This system varies state-by-state, but the costs of services tend to be very affordable.
And if an emergency happens and you’re left with big medical costs? Negotiating your medical bills is not an easy task, but it can result in big savings. Medical bill advocates like CoPatient are a good resource; they negotiate bills, find mistakes like duplicate charges or billing errors, and more (note: they do charge a 35% fee on however much you save). Finally, you could turn to crowdfunding sites, like YouCaring, to crowd-source money for high medical costs.
As always, send questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you explore your options!
Photo cred: Benson Kua