In 2017, the rate of uninsured Americans went up by 1.3% or 3.2 million people. This rate rose for all demographic groups, with “young adults, blacks, Hispanics, and low-income Americans” being disproportionately affected. The only group that didn’t see a spike is adults over age 65, who qualify for Medicare coverage.
There are many reasons why people don’t have health coverage. One of the top reasons is that they can’t afford the high cost of insurance. 40% of Americans with insurance have high deductible health plans. These plans tend to have lower monthly premiums but have high annual deductibles. The minimum annual deductible set by the government for 2018 is:
- Individual plan—$1,350
- Family plan—$2,700
So, do you really need health insurance in 2018? It’s always a good idea to have help paying for medical costs. While not being able to afford insurance is a reality for many people, this is a double-edged sword. Not having insurance can cause you to rack up astronomical medical bills.
Below, let’s take a look at the cost difference for insured and uninsured patients, the new laws for the healthcare coverage mandate, and how to afford care if you’re uninsured.
What is the cost difference for patients with health insurance in 2018?
When you have health insurance, factors like whether you’re seen by an in- or out-of-network doctor at an in- or out-of-network facility make a big difference in what you’ll pay.
When you’re uninsured, none of that applies. While insurance companies negotiate a discounted rate with hospitals in their network, you won’t be eligible for that rate as an uninsured patient. Even insured patients who go out-of-network will still be partially covered. If you are uninsured, you’ll be billed at the hospital or facility rate.
In fact, out-of-pocket healthcare costs were up 11% in 2017, according to a TransUnion Healthcare report. Interestingly, most of these costs weren’t from large medical procedures but from smaller healthcare expenses over time. Still, many medical procedures can cost upward of $1,000—a significant amount of money, especially when you’re paying out-of-pocket. Patients who have health insurance in 2018 could save a lot of money on medical procedures and general healthcare.
Medical procedure costs to consider if you don’t have health insurance in 2018
The specific cost of a procedure depends on several variables. When you’re uninsured, knowing which factors affect the price can help you budget and make decisions based on what you can afford.
- The procedure you have — Of course, different procedures have different prices. The fair price for an MRI might be $875, while the fair price for a hernia repair is $9,600 in the same city.
- The facility you go to — Sometimes, you can see a doctor at an outpatient facility for a fraction of what it would cost to have the same procedure done in a hospital. Outpatient surgery centers are very safe. Ask your doctor if you’re a good candidate to have your procedure as an outpatient.
- The state or region you get care in — When you need a medical procedure, the first thing you’ll want to do is compare the costs at different facilities in your area. However, you may have better luck getting the same procedure in a nearby state. Learn more about how traveling for care can save you money.
- What happens during and after the procedure — The cost of your medical procedure can go up if you have complications during or after surgery. For example, if you need additional anesthesia, you could see an extra charge for that.
Keep in mind that the cost and quality of a medical procedure aren’t always related. Just because care is more expensive, doesn’t mean it’s high quality. Similarly, care at a lower cost doesn’t mean you’ll get lower quality care.
Do I still have to pay a penalty if I don’t have health insurance in 2018?
This is a tricky question and one that many people are confused about. Let’s break it down.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was established in 2014, mandated that all Americans have health coverage. Those who didn’t would be charged a penalty of $695 per adult and $347.50 or 2.5% of their total household adjusted gross income.
However, in 2017, this law was repealed. Many Americans dropped their insurance coverage, thinking that they wouldn’t be subject to the penalty. Not so fast; the new law doesn’t actually go into full effect until 2019. That means people who are uninsured in 2018 could still be subject to that penalty.
How can I afford a medical procedure if I’m uninsured in 2018?
If you’re uninsured, for whatever reason, you may be wondering how you can afford a procedure that you need. Often, people who don’t have health insurance put off critical procedures. This may seem frugal in the moment but can actually cost higher medical bills in the long run. The more doctors appointments, medications, and other medical services you need to treat a health condition, the more you’ll end up spending. Having the procedure done sooner rather than later can help you avoid racking up thousands in medical bills and you’ll feel better faster.
Below, learn tips for making sure you can pay for (or get help paying for) your procedure.
Make sure you’re getting a fair price for your medical procedure
Before you ever book an appointment, it’s important to compare costs at different facilities in your area. This can be confusing, so we did the hard work for you. You can use New Choice Health to compare facilities and make sure you’re getting a fair price.
Consider traveling for your procedure
Have you thought about traveling to a different state for your procedure? If not, it’s worth looking into. There’s an opportunity to save quite a bit of money when you travel for healthcare. You can even turn your recovery time into a mini-vacation!
Ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for an outpatient procedure
Outpatient surgery centers are a high-quality, safe alternative to hospital operating rooms. Not only are they just as good, they could potentially save you thousands of dollars. However, not everyone will be eligible to have an outpatient procedure. It really comes down to your procedure and your overall health. Ask your doctor if it’s an option for you.
Ask for a discount or interest-free payment plan
While there’s no guarantee, some facilities will offer you a discount if they know you’re paying out-of-pocket. It never hurts to ask. You can also find out if they offer interest-free payment plans for people who need more time to pay for care.
Another option is to use CareCredit, a financing company that has partnered with Patient Assist to provide assistance to people who need help paying for a medical procedure. With short-term financing options of 6 months (no interest) on purchases of $200 or more and 24 or 36 months (low-interest) on purchases of $1,000 or more, this option could help you get the care you need and have more time to pay for it.
Use Patient Assist
While it’s a good idea to have health insurance in 2018, it might not be a reality for you. If you’re uninsured and need help paying for care, you may be eligible for New Choice Health’s program, Patient Assist. The program offers patients access to a private network of high-quality medical providers at a discounted, all-inclusive rate. Qualified patients have the option to apply for special interest-free financing options, as well. Apply for Patient Assist now (it only takes a few minutes)!