A Doctor’s Advice to Young People: Getting Insured is a Good Deal

January 21, 2014

Guest blog by Alice Chen, a practicing internal medicine doctor and is the Executive Director of Doctors for America, a national movement of 16,000 doctors and medical students in all 50 states who are working together to make sure Americans from coast to coast get covered.

I’m a doctor. I’m not a financial advisor. But I do know one thing: getting insured is a good deal.

Did you know? Millions of people are getting a better deal through the new health insurance marketplace – also known as HealthCare.gov. In fact, 79 percent of people who picked a plan in October through December got a tax credit to help pay for it. Have you gotten yours?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 6 in 10 people can get a plan for less than $100 a month. That’s $25 a week.

What could you get for $25 a week?

  • Movies for two
  • Cell phone and data plan
  • Health insurance

Did you know that every health insurance plan comes with a bunch of features?

  • Annual physical (no extra cost)
  • Flu shot (no extra cost)
  • Birth control (no extra cost)
  • And helps cover the cost of doctor visits, x-rays, hospital stays, prescriptions, and more.

Doctors, nurses, hospitals, social workers, and all kinds of other people in the health care system are getting the word out to people we know. We’re talking to our patients and our families. We’re putting up fliers in our waiting rooms. We’re hitting the road and talking to people in our communities and beyond. Because it’s that important.

You never forget staring a sick patient in the eyes when they realize they cannot afford the care they desperately need – care that in some cases means life or death.

Throughout my years practicing medicine, I’ve seen some heartbreaking stories of patients driven into bankruptcy or saddled with a lifetime of ruined credit – simply because they got sick.

Three years ago, I met a man that I’ll call John. He was a healthy guy in his late 20s. He had just moved to Los Angeles to chase his dream of becoming a screenwriter. While he was waiting for his big break, he worked for a small tech startup. The job had no benefits, but he was healthy and young, and it paid the bills. It was good enough for him. Or so he thought.

One day he got a skin infection and went to an urgent care clinic. They gave him some antibiotics. He took them . . . and had a horrible and very rare allergic reaction. His body went berserk. All his systems started to shut down. All of a sudden, he was in the hospital fighting for his life.

The good news is that John got better after about two weeks in the hospital.  The bad news is that he needed some really expensive treatments. His total bill was around $100,000.

That was three years ago, before he had a chance to get the health insurance that’s available today. What are the chances he’s still working on paying those bills?

Having insurance might seem like an afterthought. But take it from a doctor – it could save your wallet and your life.

Open enrollment ends March 31st, so stop reading and go get covered!

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