For one 30-something Florida couple, going without health insurance is a mixed bag of budget and principle.
Bill, Lisa, and their teenage son were covered on an individual policy through 2014. When their plan was cancelled at the end of last year, they found their options limited.
Lisa told Healthline premiums for the family of three would have more than doubled.
“We feel it’s unfair to have paid years of insurance and then be cut off and forced into higher premiums and less coverage,” she said.
So, they decided to dump their insurance, fork over the tax penalty, and pay their own medical costs as they go.
Fine Can Be Cheaper Than Premiums
Millions of Americans have gained health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The individual mandate means most people are required to purchase health insurance. There’s a bit of incentive, too. Not having insurance can subject you to a tax penalty.
But, the law leaves plenty of room to fall through the cracks. For some, it’s not a matter of choice. They can’t afford coverage but don’t qualify for a subsidy. This is particularly true in states that did not expand Medicaid under the ACA.
Then there’s another group: those who make the conscious decision to pay the penalty rather than pay for health insurance. For some of them, it’s a matter of principle, a rebellion against the mandate. Others compare the cost of insurance to the penalty and opt for the least expensive.
Paying Your Own Medical Bills
One advantage of health insurance is that insurers negotiate lower rates for services. Often, people without health insurance are billed at significantly higher rates. Bill and Lisa, however, found that many Florida providers offer reasonable self-pay rates.
“An office visit to the walk-in clinic was a $60 copay when we had insurance. The self-pay price is $109,” said Lisa. “That price is not breaking the budget.”
The couple sets aside money each month for medical expenses. They also retained their vision and dental coverage.
So far, they haven’t been turned away from any providers for lack of coverage.
It’s not unusual for people without insurance or means to skip treatment or rack up huge medical bills. Bill and Lisa’s family has been lucky. They haven’t had any major health concerns and they’re grateful for that.