The Health Insurance Marketplace is coming soon! Are you ready to go shopping? The mandate requiring most individuals to purchase health insurance goes into effect on January 1, 2014 and the Marketplace will be up and running on October 1, 2013. After March 31, 2014 those who haven't purchased health insurance will have to wait until the enrollment period for the following year.The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has already provided benefits such as no more limitations on pre-existing conditions, free services such as vaccinations for children and birth control, and allowing young people to remain on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of 26.But what if you are under 30 and healthy? Do you really need to find health insurance? The law is very clear: If you do not purchase health insurance you will pay a fee: $95 the first year per person but will go up to 2.5% of household income or $695 per person in 2016, whichever is higher.Those implementing the ACA have valid concerns that healthy individuals may decide to skip insurance and just pay the fee. Although it's tempting, there are risks involved and there are ways to minimize the cost of your health insurance so that you benefit.An option for those under 30 is catastrophic insurance, high deductible or "consumer-directed" insurance plans. These have lower monthly premiums and will include 3 well visits per year and free preventive care. Why consider this at all? These plans provide a safety net for an unexpected serious injury or illness. If you don't purchase health insurance you pay the fine as well as any healthcare expenses you incur, which can be steep. A hospital stay due to an accident can run as high as $30,000 and medical costs are a primary cause of bankruptcies. Deductibles may be as high as $6,400 for individuals but Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can save pre-tax dollars and then be used for deductibles or wellness/informational tests.
With direct access lab testing facilities and HSAs to fill the gap, you can be proactive and do something you may have never done before: Go out and get the tests you want that meet your needs. HSAs can be used for informational tests that you may want to add on to provide baseline data for future reference or track potential or current health issues that you know may cause you problems down the road. If you decide to go with a high deductible or consumer-directed plan, you will have to become a smart healthcare shopper when selecting tests and services, and not necessarily go with your doctor's lab.If you are healthy and over 30, the Marketplace provides 4 options with varying premiums and deductibles. When choosing your health plan look at your overall health. If you don't require many doctors' visits, then a high deductible plan may be right for you, but if you or a family member has any medical challenges, the high deductible plan may cost you more in the long run.