With a number of friends and family in the hospital, visiting doctor specialists and getting high-cost medical tests at an alarming rate, my mind turns to the need for good health insurance. Luckily, most people I know have access to affordable health insurance, whether through their jobs, pension plans or the federal government.
One (unbelievably strong, sweet and brave person) I know just underwent major brain surgery. Another family friend has been fighting back from failed kidneys and a host of unfathomable maladies, and hopes to have a second transplant in the coming weeks. A close family member has needed numerous diagnostic tests and medications. Yet another friend gave birth prematurely and her son (who is home, healthy and happy) spent time in the NICU.
If they didn’t have adequate, affordable health insurance, their medical conditions and treatments would be an incredible financial burden for their families.
Unavailability of good AND affordable health insurance, that which can cover everything from an annual routine physical to a multiweek hospital stay, keeps many people in my father’s generation from retiring early. While most workers qualify for Social Security at 62, Medicare health insurance doesn’t kick in until age 65. That means most “early retirees” must scramble for health insurance coverage. For example, my father-in-law could get medical insurance through his union, but it’s cost-prohibitive thanks to sky-high premiums. Or he can wait until he’s 65 and get on Medicare, and possibly add on coverage at a smaller cost.
If and when I retire many years from now, there’s no guarantee Medicare, or Social Security for that matter, will still be around. I likely won’t have a pension because I’ve never been in a union, nor do I have a government job, and I don’t work for a company that offers one.
But for those people retiring now and others who are facing big medical challenges in their lives, the need for adequate health insurance is a priority.
Hallmarks of Good Health Insurance
1. Features reasonable premiums
2. Covers hospitalization
3. Has reasonable co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles
4. Provides easy access to primary doctors and specialists
Having health insurance is a no-brainer for most people, but having good health insurance is of paramount importance, especially if you find yourself facing a major medical issue. Just giving birth to a child (no C-section) could have cost us $30,000 — with health insurance, we paid $3,300. It was still a lot, but far from full price.