Tax Facts: Still not enrolled in health insurance? Now's the time…

This time of year, you're either scrambling to finish work or scoping out last minute gifts from your desk to look "busy." Either way, your health insurance plan — or lack thereof — may be low on your list of priorities.

The truth is, you may be more concerned by your glut of unused PTO or chipping in for a New Year's Eve blowout. And with the individual mandate going away in January, there is less of a reason to get covered.

Even if you're young and healthy, winging it without a plan is risky. Here's why you can't afford to skip health insurance coverage for 2019.

Many health plans cover preventive care

For many of us, wellness is a lifelong challenge. The stress of work, family, and money is enough to lose sleep over. And when you're tired, ordering pizza and watching Netflix every night is pretty appealing. The problem is, years of stress, little sleep, lack of exercise, and poor diet choices can lead to chronic illness.

The good news is, most health insurance plans cover preventative care. That means annual checkups with your doctor, screenings, and shots won't cost extra. Marketplace plans pay for screenings for depression, diet counseling, lung cancer, obesity, and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preventive care uncovers illnesses and diseases when they're easiest to treat — and most likely to be successful.

Of course, saving money on health care is a good thing, but living a long, healthy life is what's most important. Preventive care is one way to make that happen and it may be more affordable than you expect.

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Health insurance prepares you for the worst

Let's pretend you had the chance to join your company's health policy or buy insurance through the Marketplace, but waived both opportunities. It may be fine until your annual toe wrestling tournament (yup, it's really a thing!) goes horribly wrong and you wind up with a broken leg.

Some innocent fun may quickly turn into a nightmare when you realize the injury may set you back up to $7,500. That's no small chunk of change — and it only gets more expensive from there. A three-day hospital stint could rack up $30,000 and treating cancer could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Health insurance won't protect you from out-of-pocket expenses. But it may shield your family from the types of bills that could cause financial catastrophe. Marketplace plans even have a cap on the total amount you will have to pay.

Imperfect health insurance is better than none at all

It's easy to understand why you may choose to opt-out of health insurance. It's expensive, confusing, and — let's face it — it doesn't feel much like coverage when your bills start rolling in. But even a flawed plan is better than going without. Life throws you enough financial curveballs. There is no need to make unexpected high medical bills another one of them.

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Tax Facts is a weekly column offering straight up, no-nonsense HSA tax and account tips, written in everyday language. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the HSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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