Best of 2016: Even the Young and Healthy Need Health Insurance

Key Steps for a Healthy Heart

While it’s true that health issues tend to multiply with age, even young people can find themselves in need of a doctor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ), the top cause of death among Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 are unintentional injuries. Other common health risks include smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity—all of which play a role in the development of a variety of life-threatening diseases. For those without health insurance, the costs of emergency treatment in the event of an accident or long-term treatment due to disease can be financially devastating—no matter how old you are at the time. Consider these reasons you need health insurance even if you’re currently young and healthy.

Accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.

You don’t have to go skydiving, bungee jumping or mountain climbing to be injured in an accident. Every year, 43 million Americans visit emergency departments as the result of unintentional injuries according to the CDC. In 2014 , the leading causes of nonfatal, unintentional injuries included falls, overexertion, motor vehicle collisions, poisoning, bug bites or stings, fires and burns, dog bites and suffocation—most of which could realistically happen in your own home.

Health issues become more difficult to treat if you ignore them.

While an accident may force you to seek medical help, having health insurance also makes it easier to see a doctor about other health concerns before they become major issues. Without coverage, you’re more likely to put off seeking treatment because you’re worried about the associated costs. In fact, a Gallup survey found that 57 percent of uninsured Americans had put of medical treatment because of cost. Unfortunately, failing to address health issues early on can have serious consequences for your long-term health.

If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll have to pay a fine.

If you choose not to buy health insurance coverage mandated by law under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), you will have to make an “individual shared responsibility payment” when you file your taxes each year. The government calculates the fee you owe two ways. You’ll have to pay whichever is higher, whether that’s 2.5 percent of your household income or $695 per adult plus $347.50 per child. If you don’t pay the fee, the IRS will withhold it from your future tax refunds.

While the open enrollment period for 2016 ended on January 31, you may still be able to sign up for qualifying healthcare coverage and reduce the penalty you’ll pay with this year’s taxes next April. Special enrollment periods under the ACA are triggered by a number of events including losing your employer-sponsored health coverage, getting married, having a baby, getting divorced, and moving to a new zip code or county.

If you’d like to learn more about special enrollment periods or discuss your health insurance options prior to the open enrollment period for 2017 that will begin on November 1 of this year, we’re here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any health insurance questions or concerns.