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The Hidden Costs of Obamacare - And What to Do About It

Approximately 16 million adults with a chronic condition have skipped doctor visits because they’re worried about cost, according to a survey from SCIO Health Analytics.

How is that possible when the Affordable Care Act requires everyone to have adequate health insurance coverage with Obamacare? When an Obamacare plan’s deductible is too high or insurance doesn’t cover all costs.

If you have a high deductible plan or can’t even afford co-pays, it makes sense to skip those doctor and hospital visits. Add existing medical bills to the equation, and you’re probably struggling to pay some of the hidden costs of Obamacare.

Here’s a closer look at how Obamacare health plans may be more expensive than you realize:

Obamacare Premiums Increase Year after Year

man holds up chart representing increasing Obamacare costs

Obamacare plans for individuals can cost anywhere from $257 to $900+ per month in premiums, depending on your age and plan you choose. For many Americans, the cost of the premium alone is too much for the budget to bear — many end up living without any coverage at all. Almost 12% of Americans remained uninsured through the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a Gallup poll. And, with the upcoming Obamacare rate hike on November 1, more Americans may simply choose to go without healthcare coverage.

High Deductible Plans Put Americans at Risk for Medical Debt

past due medical bill

Another high price we pay for Obamacare: The deductible.

In 2016, the Obamacare Bronze plan for an individual has a deductible up to $6,850; the average deductible for a family plan is $13,700. Americans who don’t have a few thousand dollars sitting in a savings account are at risk for accumulating medical debt even though they have health insurance.

Imagine if you had to turn down medical care for yourself or a family member because the cost would be $6,500, just under your deductible. Money may already be tight because you’re also paying for an expensive Obamacare premium. This is the struggle for many middle-income Americans who are trying to make ends meet and then get stuck with high medical bills in an emergency situation. For these Americans, turning to credit cards, personal loans, or getting an equity line of credit may be the only way to stay afloat.

Those Co-Pays Add Up

Even if you have health insurance, every physician visit or trip to the hospital can cost you anywhere from $20 to $50+ per visit, depending on your plan and provider. Those costs add up — even four to six visits to the doctor when undergoing treatment equates to $300+ in extra costs for the year.

How to Manage Healthcare Expenses with Obamacare

If you bought a healthcare plan through the Obamacare exchange (or otherwise), make sure you’re covered in the event, think about how you will meet your deductible. Do you have enough money in emergency savings to cover out of pocket costs?

Having a Medical Cash Benefits plan, such as critical illness insurance or a hospital indemnity plan, means you would receive a cash benefit the moment you were diagnosed with a serious illness or end up staying in the hospital overnight. You could receive up to $50,000 as a lump sum benefit and would be free to use that cash for both medical and non-medical expenses.

Metal Gap plans are another option. These are designed to fill gaps in coverage you have with an Obamacare plan so you can cover the deductible, hospital bills, and everyday expenses. These plans are more affordable than regular health insurance and would have you covered in the event of an emergency.

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