41% of Insured Americans Have Avoided Medical Care Due to Costs
- Even insured Americans struggle to cover healthcare bills.
- It's important to save money for medical costs so you don't have to skimp on the care you need.
- Adding to your emergency fund, having a dedicated savings account for medical costs, or even opening an HSA can help.
That's not a good thing at all.
There's a reason going without health insurance is a dangerous thing. Without insurance, you might encounter astronomical medical bills if you fall ill or get injured and wind up in the hospital. In fact, your bills might mount in that scenario even if your situation isn't dire enough to warrant a visit to the ER.
But while it's clear that people without health insurance might struggle to cover their medical bills, new data reveals that even those with insurance are having a hard time keeping up with their costs. In a recent Policygenius survey, 41% of Americans who have insurance have avoided seeking medical care due to the costs involved. And that's problematic.
Avoiding medical care could mean putting your health at risk. It could also mean costing yourself more money by letting minor issues escalate.
Imagine you skip a visit to your local urgent care clinic to avoid the $40 copay that you'll incur. If the infection you have winds up getting worse, you could land in the hospital and get stuck with a $500 copay or more.
That's why it's so important to set money aside to cover healthcare costs. That way, you won't have to skip out on care when you need it. And here are some options to consider in that regard.
1. Beef up your emergency fund
You should, ideally, have money set aside to cover emergencies, like job loss or home or car repairs. If you pump extra money into your emergency fund, you'll have more of a cushion in case medical bills start popping up.
2. Have a dedicated savings account for medical care
If you want to make absolutely sure you're able to get the medical care you need, open a savings account earmarked for healthcare and fund it as best as you can. You should aim to put enough money into that account to, at a minimum, cover your annual deductible. That's the amount of money you'll need to pay out of pocket before your health insurance company starts footing the bills for the services you need (though preventive care is generally not subject to a deductible).
3. Open an HSA
To qualify for a health savings account, or HSA, you need to be enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan. In 2023, that means having an individual deductible of $1,500 or more, or a family-level deductible of $3,000 or more.
If your plan qualifies, an HSA lets you sock away money on a pre-tax basis for healthcare costs. Any HSA funds you don't need to use immediately can be invested for added growth, and gains in your account won't be taxed. Then, withdrawals are tax-free as long as they're used for qualifying medical expenses.
Best of all, unlike flexible spending accounts (FSAs), HSA funds never expire. You can put money into an HSA in 2023 and take your first withdrawal in 2043, and that's fine.
Avoiding medical care is a dangerous thing to do. If the cost of care is keeping you from tending to your health-related needs, do your best to start setting money aside for healthcare -- either in an emergency fund, a separate savings account, or an HSA.
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