What Happens if I Don’t Have Health Insurance?

Link to Open Enrollment

Many people without health insurance are unaware of the consequences for not being insured. There are many different legal, financial, and health consequences for those who do not have health insurance, and Meritage Medical Network would like to explain some of the most important consequences for not being insured.

Tax Penalties

To incentivize more individuals to purchase health insurance, and thus ultimately cause health insurance rates to decrease, part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to institute a tax penalty for those who are not insured. In 2015, if you remain uninsured for more than 3 months of the year, you will be obligated to pay the higher of two amounts: either (1) 2% of your yearly household income – over 10,000 – up to the national average premium cost of a bronze plan from the health insurance marketplace or (2) $325 per adult and $162.50 per child under 18 with a maximum amount of $975.

Less Access to Necessary Health Care

In 2013, 30% of uninsured adults did not get the medical care they needed because of the high costs associated with receiveing treatment. Uninsured adults are also less likely than people with insurance to seek out preventative care and care for chronic diseases and other major health conditions.

Along with this tendency to not seek out care, being uninsured increases individuals’ risk of mortality. In other words, those with health insurance tend to live longer and be healthier than those who are uninsured. One study suggests that the death rate of uninsured individuals is 25 percent higher than otherwise similar people who have health insurance. Extrapolating that percentage and applying it to the number of uninsured people in the United States, it’s possible that 18,000 deaths occur each year as a result of people lacking insurance.

Significant Financial Burdens

Beyond being obligated to pay a tax penalty for not being insured, those who are uninsured also face more financial burdens than insured individuals. Somewhat unexpectedly, uninsured individuals are often billed for any and all care they receive and are charged more than those who are insured for that care. As a result of these billing practices, roughly 40% of uninsured adults have outstanding medical bills, and those who are uninsured are more likely to postpone getting health care because of the costs.

For these reasons and many more, it is important for those who do not currently have insurance to seek coverage during open enrollment. During open enrollment, individuals who are uninsured can browse through plans on the insurance marketplace – Covered California – and see if they qualify for any financial assistance for purchasing health insurance. If you do purchase a plan, make sure it covers care from Meritage Medical Network. You can learn more about how to join the network by visiting our website.


Kaiser Family Foundation. (2014, October 29). Key facts about the uninsured population. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from https://kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/

Vestal, C. (2014, May 12). Does health insurance increase your lifespan? USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/12/stateline-health-insurance-death-rates/8999769/

Link to Open Enrollment
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