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45% of Americans With Health Insurance Have Still Avoided Care Due to the Cost

45% of Americans With Health Insurance Have Still Avoided Care Due to the Cost

You’ll often hear that it’s a dangerous thing to go without health insurance. If you get injured or need extensive treatment in a hospital or rehab facility, you could be looking at truly catastrophic bills without some sort of coverage in place.

But let’s be clear — having health insurance does not guarantee that your medical care will be affordable. In fact, a good 45% of insured Americans have avoided medical care because they knew or feared their health insurance wouldn’t cover the cost, according to a new survey by Policygenius. And that’s a big problem.

You can’t afford to let health issues escalate

The problem with avoiding medical care is twofold. First, you risk harming your health by letting certain issues fester. And if you don’t seek care early on when something is wrong with your health, you risk allowing that issue to escalate to the point where it’s more expensive to treat.

That’s why it’s really important to set money aside for healthcare expenses. That’s not necessarily an easy thing, but that way, you have funds to tap when that need arises. And you won’t have to risk letting things worsen physically or financially.

The best ways to save for healthcare costs

When it comes to setting money aside for medical costs, you have options. You could just add more money to your savings account. But you may want to contribute to an account that offers you a tax break on the money you put in.

One option there is to put money into a flexible spending account, or FSA. You can then take withdrawals as needed when medical costs arise. Just be careful with an FSA, because these plans usually operate on a use-it-or-lose-it basis and the money you put in doesn’t roll over year to year. If you contribute too much for a given year, you risk forfeiting the unused funds.

Another option to look at is a health savings account, or HSA. These accounts are similar to FSAs, only you don’t have to spend down your plan balance each year. In fact, you’re actually encouraged not to do that if possible, because HSAs allow you to invest your balance in a tax-free manner so it grows into a larger sum over time. The only catch is that with an HSA, your health plan needs to conform to certain rules to qualify. And these can change from year to year.

In 2024, to qualify for an HSA, you need a minimum deductible of $1,600 for self-only coverage or $3,200 for family coverage. Your out-of-pocket maximum must also be limited to $8,050 for self-only coverage or $16,100 for family coverage.

How much to save for healthcare costs

As far as how much to save goes, one benchmark to work with is socking away enough money to meet your health insurance deductible. In the aforementioned survey, 28% of those with health insurance said they can’t afford their deductibles. But if you save that much, you’ll buy yourself some protection — and make it so you won’t have to resign yourself to ignoring health problems when they arise.

Your deductible is the amount of money you have to shell out before your health insurer picks up the tab for your care. You’re not necessarily done paying medical bills for the year once you meet your deductible, but often, from there, your costs aren’t as substantial because your insurance coverage kicks in. So if you’re able to save beyond what your deductible entails, even better. But saving at least the deductible amount is a good start.

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