The Cost of Not Having Health Insurance

By Robert Lewis, InsWeb.com

Are you one of the 50 million Americans without health insurance? If so, you’re rolling the dice with your physical and financial health.

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Medical Costs Continue to Increase

The cost of medical procedures and prescriptions is soaring. The average cost of a prescription drug is $71 according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), and minor surgery could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Here are three examples of medical costs you could face if you're uninsured:*

  • A 3-day hospital stay - $27,984
  • Burst appendix - $48,151
  • Knee surgery and aftercare - $48,302

Even worse, the National Business Group on Health reports that the cost of a major heart attack is roughly $1 million. For a less severe heart attack, the price tag is still $760,000. This factors in hospital stays, surgery, exams, prescription drugs, follow-up visits and more.

With these numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that over 50 percent of bankruptcies are caused by medical bills.

What Other Health Coverage Options Are Out There?

For the recently unemployed, COBRA is one option—but it’s notoriously pricey. A recent study reports American families pay an average of $1,069 per month for COBRA.**

Individual health insurance, though, may be a better alternative.

With individual health insurance, you can find a policy that fits your exact needs and budget. And individual health insurance costs far less than COBRA. Average premiums are only $3,606 annually (KFF), and roughly 15.7 million Americans purchase it.

Here are a few other reasons individual health insurance may be right for you:

  • You choose the level of coverage you receive
  • It's not dependent on an employer
  • It's cheaper than COBRA, and may offer better coverage

If you need low-cost health insurance, individual health insurance may be your very best option.

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*Blue Cross **Families USA, 2009