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Is there a cost to not having health insurance — and how can you find an affordable plan?

If you’ve just left a larger company that offered health insurance to work for yourself or for a small company that doesn’t offer insurance, you may be wondering what to do.

“If you’re thinking of skipping on health insurance, you should think again,” says John Columbo, call center sales supervisor at Geisinger Health Plan.

While it may seem like the easy way to go sometimes, not having health insurance can cost you in the long run. Here's why:

Health bills can add up, especially if you’re in the hospital

Bills can add up if you find yourself in need of healthcare without insurance.

Every time you visit your doctor or a specialist, you pay a copay. This is a fixed amount you pay for a covered service under your insurance after you’ve paid your deductible (your deductible is the amount you pay into your insurance before your insurance will pay any expenses).

A copay is usually between $10 and $50, and depending on your insurance plan, the cost to visit an urgent care facility and the ER can range between $30 and $300.

“Without insurance, though, you can pay thousands for a visit to the ER and hundreds for a visit to your doctor,” says Columbo. And this can add up over time, especially with unplanned injuries and illnesses.

“If you’re injured or need surgery and end up in the hospital without health insurance, you’ll need to pay out of pocket,” says Columbo. “And if you don’t have the money to pay your medical bills, you’ll begin to build medical debt.”

There’s no limit to the amount of debt you can build for medical expenses without a health insurance plan. When you do have a health insurance plan, you can only go into debt so much — the amount varies by plan. Still, there is a limit and your insurance will cover a set amount of your medical bills.

What to do if you lose health insurance coverage

When you lose insurance involuntarily, you qualify for a 60-day special enrollment period. Be sure to enroll during this period because if you don’t, you may have to wait until open enrollment (which happens once a year, beginning in the fall) to pick up insurance again.

“You’ll face the risk of not having coverage at all if you ignore the enrollment periods when you are eligible,” says Columbo.

Open enrollment occurs each year between November and January. It’s the annual time when people can choose or make changes to their health insurance coverage. After open enrollment ends in January, you'll need to qualify for a special enrollment period in order to get health insurance.

Finding an affordable health insurance plan with Geisinger Health Plan

With 15 different plans ranging from individual to family coverage, and income-based plans including Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and GHP Family (our Medicaid plan), Geisinger Health Plan offers many insurance options.

“For many households, advance tax credits and subsidies are available to help pay for individual health insurance, too,” says Columbo.

Looking for an individual health insurance plan, or want to know if you qualify for a tax credit or subsidies? Geisinger Health Plan’s dedicated, trained advisors will partner with you from start to finish to find the plan that’s right for you. Call a Geisinger Health Plan representative today at 800-918-5154.

Next steps:

Find an insurance that works for you with Geisinger Marketplace
Learn about shopping for insurance on a fixed income
Learn more about Geisinger Health Plan