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Top Five Risks of Not Having Health Insurance

Even though free quotes from reputable agents can help identify affordable coverage, uninsured Americans often tell themselves that they won't get sick, or that they can enroll in a cheap health insurance policy once they are earning more money. Public health experts point out five major risks that uninsured Americans live with every day:

Statistics indicate that uninsured workers often pay the same amount in unexpected health care costs as they would have for discount insurance premiums. One recent study suggests that Americans without health insurance often pay more than $1,000 for health care services that might otherwise be covered or offset by insurance. Worse than that, if you develop a chronic condition or illness while uninsured it may not be covered by insurance once you buy it -- or you may even find yourself uninsurable. Obtaining free quotes from insurance agents can put your own potential savings into perspective.

After waking up with stomach pain, an uninsured fashion industry worker waited seven hours to receive a diagnosis: appendicitis. Unable to qualify for a longer hospital stay, he was discharged after one night. Complications from delayed treatment and a quick discharge caused rashes, swelling, and a life-threatening fever. Experts note that a patient with even a cheap health insurance policy would have been treated far more quickly and with more care, minimizing pain and future illness.

The high profile case of a traveler with tuberculosis brought attention to the potential consequences of untreated illnesses. However, officials warn that uninsured service industry professionals can endanger entire communities by working sick. According to one study, fewer than one in five food workers in California have health insurance. Without proper coverage, uninsured cooks and servers can put diners at risk of contracting illnesses like hepatitis or tuberculosis.

A growing number of colleges and universities now decline enrollment for students who cannot provide proof of current health insurance. Such policies protect schools from lawsuits filed by families of other students who become ill when exposed to an untreated, uninsured classmate. For working adults attending career training programs, this requirement can delay completion of degree or certification programs necessary for career advancement.

In 2005, Harvard researchers discovered that medical bills caused more bankruptcies than other debts. Over two million Americans claim bankruptcy every year because of unpaid hospital expenses. Under stringent bankruptcy laws, an illness or injury can cause financial strain on a family for ten years, if not longer. A discount insurance plan that covers only catastrophic illness or injury can be enough to protect your family against financial ruin.

Sources
Brazen Careerist
Consumer Affairs
New York Magazine
The California Endowment
Washington Post

About the Author
Joe Taylor Jr. is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.

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