What Happens If You Don’t Have Health Insurance?

Having to face a medical emergency when you don’t have health insurance coverage can cause you dire financial setback.

Despite the fact that the percentage of American who are uninsured have rapidly dropped, there are still many who still lack any form of health insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) gives millions of Americans the opportunity to avail a government-subsidized health insurance plan.

However, there’s an eligibility criteria which unfortunately had made it tough for certain people to be eligible for the subsidized health insurance, and several of them who managed to qualify, chose to not participate.

At this present time, there are more than 27 million American who have no health insurance coverage. This large number consists of low-income individuals, racial minorities and adults. Many of these people simply don’t have health insurance because they’re unable to afford it.

Either way, we feel it’s important for you to be aware of what it truly means to live without any health insurance coverage and what are your best options to finding affordable health care.

What Happens If You Don’t Have Health Insurance?

When the ACA took place, individuals who choose not to have health insurance faced a penalty. The penalty/fine was known as the Shared Responsibility Payment.

However from 2019, this penalty is no longer in effect by the federal government. But, this depends on the state you reside in, as you may have to pay a penalty fee when you file your taxes if you were to not have health insurance.

The penalty fee is likely to be a significant amount, that you might not be expecting. If you decide to not have health insurance, you should be mentally prepared to pay up the penalty fees and further add it into your budget.

Be mindful that there if you were to forgo health insurance, there are financial risks to it, like not being able to afford health care when an emergency comes up. This could result in you having plentiful debt if you need more than simple health care service.

Hence, why health insurance is not a luxury but in fact a necessity in life.

Risks of Being Uninsured

Research has shown individuals who don’t have health insurance, are more likely to forgo health care. Despite the fact that you may or may not have health insurance, this decision plays a big part in how healthy of a person you are.

The decision to not have health insurance is usually because of financial expenses on more important life priorities such as housing, food and education. However, not having health insurance may further worsen your financial situation.

We’ll be sharing some of these risks below.

Medical Debt

Unfortunately, having no health insurance is always risky when there’s any form of medical emergency. A serious health issue or accident that requires you to have a costly treatment plan can cause you to have poor credit, or worse, result in bankruptcy.

A fractured or broken leg, car accident or even a cancer diagnosis can cost you thousands of dollars, and these are usually paid one shot and while the treatment is in place. Any low/moderate earning individual is likely to be in a huge medical debt.

As a matter of fact, medical debt is the main reason for personal bankruptcy for several years. Even if medical debt doesn’t cause one bankruptcy, it still takes a huge financial and emotional toll on an individual.

Furthermore, having an excess of medical debt deprives you from being able to save money and in fact leaves you with a financial strain that can have you borrowing money and letting go of basic necessities.

Lack of Preventive Care

Many of us don’t come from a financially sound background, where we have tons of savings coped up in our bank accounts. Therefore, when a medical emergency comes knocking at our doorsteps, we feel helpless but to either forgo or turn to taking up a loan.

Often many medical emergencies such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and etc, can often be detected in routine medical check ups. However, uninsured individuals skip check ups due to how expensive uncovered visits are likely to be.

A lot of times, people with no health insurance tend often self-diagnose themselves, by strictly relying on over the counter medications, and rather wait until the illness becomes a medical emergency before finally deciding to see the doctor.

Absence of Quality Medical Care

Contrary to what people say, health care providers have no obligation by the law to provide medical services to those who are under no health insurance. Only emergency departments have a legal obligation  to offer immediate medical care for both insured and uninsured individuals.

However, it’ll be difficult for uninsured individuals to receive follow up treatments, especially when you’re unable to pay the medical bills. Having no health insurance means you’ll have restricted access to health care when you desperately need one.

Lack of Tax Benefits

If you are uninsured, you may not be aware of the fact that you are eligible to tax benefits on medical insurance premiums under section 80D of Income Tax Act. Now, this is a huge benefit offered by health insurance plans.

Therefore, if you don’t have any form of health insurance coverage, you’re going to lose out on being able to save tax from this particular component. It’s true that having health insurance is costly, but this is a smart investment towards safeguarding the health care for yourself and your loved ones, as well as your savings.

What Are Your Other Options?

It’s common for uninsured individuals to think that they lack any all sorts of health care options. However, there are free options or affordable ones available out there for them in most communities.

If you can’t afford having health insurance or in between jobs, or perhaps living without health insurance on purpose, there are some low-cost options you can consider. Moreover, some don’t even have an income eligibility.


There are several clinics in larger communities that offer healthcare at an affordable rate for individuals who have no health insurance. They offer basic health care services and their charges are purely based on the individual income scale.

Moreover, you can try locating walk-in clinics in certain grocery stores, malls, or pharmacies. The medical staff there will be able to provide services such as treatment for minor injuries or illnesses, checkups, vaccines, health screening, etc.

Health Screening Events

Once in a while, or after some months, there are low-cost or even cost-free preventive screenings available that can highlight specific illnesses such as high cholesterol or so. This will allow you to address your illness as soon as possible.

Catastrophic Plans

Catastrophic plans or high deductible plans will help provide you with health coverage in case of an illness or accident. They have significantly low monthly premiums and further provide you with a safety net when you need it the most.

You can purchase these plans directly from an insurer, broker, agent or through the Marketplace.


Even if no risk factor comes up, which eventually will in the future, it’s still highly recommended that you find health insurance policy, with the most minimum monthly premiums on it. This will not only provide you with medical coverage when needed but allows you to have a peace of mind.

Not having health insurance is extremely risky in today’s time and age. The best thing you can do if you’re uninsured, is to educate yourself of the health care options and insurance available out there at a low-cost.

Despite the fact that you may be the healthiest person around, it’s not worth it to forgo getting health insurance. We hope this article enlightened you with the risks associated with no having health insurance.

Sandra Johnson

Sandra Johnson

Sandra Johnson was a few years out of school and took a job as a life insurance agent in California, selling coverage door-to-door for Prudential. The experience taught her about the technical components of insurance and its benefits for individuals and society, as well as the misunderstandings people often have about insurance. She has over ten years’ experience in the insurance industry, having worked as both a Broker and Underwriter, assisting clients across a broad range of industries. At Insurance Noon, Sarah diligently gathers all the required information and curates up pieces to provide meaningful insurance solutions. Her personal value proposition is to demonstrate a genuine interest in always adding value for clients.Her determined approach to guiding clients has turned her into a platinum adviser to multiple insurers.

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