Unhealthy Savings

A friend revealed a secret to me the other day. Money has been tight for her family, (especially since her husband lost his job a few months back) but she told me that she’d found a way to save cash. Curious, I asked how. Turns out she canceled their health insurance and has been keeping her fingers crossed that no one in the family will need to go to the doctor.

Wow, that seems like a pretty risky gamble to me. But apparently, she’s not the only one taking it. One in six Americans does not have health insurance, according to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. And I’ve since discovered a few acquaintances have done the same thing. Many are self-employed or work part-time at one or two jobs, so they don’t qualify for benefits. But some have opted out of good employer plans simply because, right now, they’d prefer a fuller paycheck.

If you could guarantee, 100% without a doubt, that you will never get sick, cutting out health insurance might be a smart move. But, unfortunately, none of us can do that. That’s why it’s called insurance. Sure, you might save a few thousand bucks a year – and that’s no small change, I know – but throw in a doctor’s visit and meds for something as common (yet serious) as strep throat, a bad flu, or your child’s ear infection, and you’ll end up paying anyway. And just one stay in the ER (did I mention my friend has a 6-year-old kid? Come on, how many kids break their arm or require stitches at some point?) and you’ll be paying off hospital bills for life.

Whether you’ve been laid off, are between jobs, or just can’t afford your monthly health insurance bill, you still have options. Your employer is required to offer short-term (and usually pretty pricey) insurance called COBRA. Use it temporarily between jobs, or while you compare individual health plans (ehealthinsurance.com is a helpful website) and settle on one that you can budget for. If you can’t afford insurance, period, look into government help like Medicaid to see if you qualify. Whatever you do, don’t just assume you won’t need to go to the doctor.

Of course it’s good to save money. But what good is money if you’re too sick to spend it? Unlike house or car bills, your insurance payments can keep you alive. Take care of your well-being before all else. Then, learn how to organize your finances so you don’t ever have to short change yourself. Until the guys in Washington figure out how get us all the health care we deserve, we’re stuck paying sky-high premiums. Start a plan to budget for them.

You know how you should get an annual checkup to make sure you're in good physical health? Well, with the free debt analysis DebtStoppers is currently offering,now is the perfect time to get a checkup for your financial health. You shouldn’t have to compromise your health to pay the bills. You deserve to have a healthy body, mind and pocketbook.

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