Young people who do not have any chronic medical conditions may not realize that they could be saving money by going without health insurance. With the costs of health insurance rising, and many confusing costs included in the health insurance plans on the healthcare exchange, many younger adults are finding that the price of paying the penalty for not having insurance is cheaper than having an insurance plan that they do not use much. In fact, one study showed that 86% of young people would be better off without insurance in 2014!
Under the Affordable Care Act, all Americans are required to carry health insurance, or pay a penalty. This part of the law is called the individual mandate. When more people have health insurance, more people are contributing money to a general pool of money that is used to pay for medical expenses under insurance. As more people purchase insurance and contribute to this pool, the costs of providing medical care to insured people decrease. Requiring Americans to carry insurance or pay a penalty for not having insurance ensures that as many people as possible are contributing money to the system that pays for healthcare, lowering costs for everyone.
Better off without Insurance?
The penalty for not carrying health insurance is based on annual household income. Adults over 18 years of age who make less than $10,150 per year do not have to pay a penalty in 2014. Since a lot of young adults fall into this category, they will not have to pay any penalties or fees if they do not get health insurance, as long as they make less money per year than this annual limit. Adults without chronic medical conditions who make less than $10,150 per year may be able to save money by taking the risk of going without health insurance.
Adults who do not carry health insurance and make more than $10,150 per year are required to pay either $95 per person for the year, or a penalty of 1% of their annual household income, whichever is greater. For example, if you make $30,000 per year, the penalty will be $300. This small penalty is often less than the total costs of premiums, deductibles, co-payments, and out of pocket costs that are involved in carrying a health insurance plan, so prices should be considered carefully before paying for an insurance plan that may not be worth the extra money.
The penalty for not carrying a health insurance plan is set to increase every year. In 2015, the penalty will be 2% of a person’s annual household income or $325 per person, whichever is greater. In 2016, this will increase to 2.5% of the annual household income or $695 per person, whichever is greater. For this year, it may be cheaper to go without insurance, but savings will need to be re-evaluated on an annual basis to determine if it will remain cheaper to go without insurance in the coming years.
Young Adults Should Consider Their Options
Young adults should consider their options for medical coverage very carefully, and should consider their own annual income when making their decision. Going without health insurance is not for everyone – if an accident or an unexpected health event occurs, the uninsured person should expect to be on the hook for the entire cost of healthcare provided during the treatment of his or her condition. Unexpected medical issues arise all the time, though the risk of a serious medical issue occurring in a young adult is lower than the risk of such an event in an older adult. In fact, in 2011, the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that people age 25-34 had a 5% chance of experiencing medical events resulting in at least $27,000 in annual medical expenses, leaving 95% of adults in this age group that are getting away with significantly less per year in medical expenses.
Taking the risk of going without insurance can save a person money if they do not have any major medical issues that arise, and is certainly a risk that should be weighed carefully. However, it should be kept in mind that going without health insurance does not mean that someone will be forced to go without the healthcare they need. When you do not have insurance, you will have to pay out of pocket for doctor visits, though many clinics have discounts for patients paying out of pocket and payment plans are often available if needed.
Medication costs must also be paid out of pocket if the patient does not have insurance, and these costs can also add up quickly without the benefit of an insurance plan. Since drug costs are constantly increasing, this can result in prohibitively expensive bills for medically necessary prescription products. For example, getting sick with pneumonia can result in needing several prescriptions to bring the patient back to health. An antibiotic such as levofloxacin, an inhaler such as albuterol, and a cough medication such as guaifenesin with codeine are commonly prescribed for patients with pneumonia to kill the bacteria causing their illness, open their airways so they can breathe more easily, and reduce the urge to cough. A regimen such as this can cost nearly $350 out of pocket, without using any insurance or discounts. Luckily, there are options to lower the prices of necessary medications for those without insurance.
When insurance premiums or deductibles are too high for it to be worth it to consumers to purchase insurance, patients can decide to seek alternative avenues to lower drug prices on their own when they find themselves needing to get a prescription filled. Discount cards such as the Prescription Discount Card from the Discount Drug Network come to the rescue to help patients without insurance lower prices when they experience high drug costs. The Prescription Discount Card from the Discount Drug Network can help patients save money and get the medications they need at a more affordable rate.
Depending on the pharmacy the consumer uses, discounts of 10-85% can be applied to both generic and brand name products. The Prescription Discount Card can be used in place of insurance, and is accepted at over 65,000 pharmacies nationwide.
Using the same example of pneumonia, applying the Prescription Discount Card to lower the medication costs can save the user a significant amount of money. After applying the discount, the cost of these three medications was decreased to only $75, saving the patient nearly $300!
By using the simple online Drug Pricing tool on the Discount Drug Network’s website, consumers can figure out what their costs will be when using the Prescription Discount Card for a specific product at the pharmacy of their choice, before they even go into to the store. It allows users to compare the discounted price to their insurance copays if they have insurance in order to figure out the lowest price that is available to them, without even leaving the comfort of their own home. Consumers can also compare prices between pharmacies in their area, as prices can vary significantly from pharmacy to pharmacy.
Using the Prescription Discount Card is simple and easy. Consumers can sign up to receive discounts on the Discount Drug Network’s website, discountdrugnetwork.com. After signing up, the pharmacy billing information is given to the consumer, which they can print out and take to any local pharmacy. The discount card information can then be given to pharmacy personnel along with a prescription for processing in order to receive the discount.
Another cost-saving option for people who do not take many chronic prescription medications is purchasing medical insurance but opting out of prescription insurance to try to save money. This carries less risk than not having medical insurance at all, and would allow someone to see their doctor and have those services covered by insurance while saving money on the prescription portion of insurance. This option of course has risks of its own – if someone becomes acutely ill and costly treatments such as antibiotics or inhalers are needed to bring the person back to health, there will be no insurance plan to pay for these medications. However, these people would benefit from using the Prescription Discount Card to lower the prices of their medications they desperately need, negating the need for prescription insurance.
While going without health insurance is a risk that must be weighed carefully, for those who are able to take the risk, costs may be lower than if they purchased an insurance plan that was barely used. With the costs of healthcare continuing to rise, using alternative methods to pay for prescriptions and healthcare is becoming more and more common, and can save an uninsured person a lot of money. The Prescription Discount Card is one of those alternative methods.
The Prescription Discount Card is free for everyone, and can be used in place of insurance if the insurance copay is too high, or if the consumer does not carry prescription insurance. Consumers can easily sign up for the card at discountdrugnetwork.com and order a wallet card to carry this discount with them to use when it is needed most.