Face it: tens of millions of people in America are underinsured. And while it’s certainly not an ideal situation, it’s one that folks deal with everyday. Close to 25 million Americans between the ages of 19 and 64 were underinsured in 2007, according to a study by the industry journal Health Affairs. You don’t have to stay that way! A little hustle, sacrifice and preparation goes a long way.
1. Piling up massive debt. The hard and most obvious fact of being underinsured or having no insurance at all is that many Americans suffer accidents or sudden illnesses that puts them on the hook for thousands of dollars in medical care. If you are a freelancer or entrepreneur, your first step should be to take advantage of as much free or low-cost preventative care as you can. Free mammograms and testing for sexually transmitted diseases or infections can be had for free or next to nothing if you do your research. If you can afford it, look into freelancer’s insurance. The Freelancer’s Union offers tons of benefits that can be cost effective in the short-term.
2. Not getting treatment for pre-existing conditions. This one is simple: If you have a pre-existing condition (kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes) understand your policy and determine if you need more comprehensive coverage should you fall ill. Many Americans get sick only to find their policies have high premiums or deductibles, and don’t do very much in the way of insurance. Be vigilant.
3. Not diversifying your revenue stream. This is important. While many independent workers are struggling to make one or two projects work financially, others rely on one income stream and are never able to get other ventures off the ground. Use whatever passion, free time or crafts you have up your sleeve to keep the money coming in when something falls off. It will help keep you above water.
4. Not saving for a rainy day. Literally. Many small businesses who suffered during and after Hurricane Sandy were miffed to find that the insurance they had didn’t cover them in the case of a flood. Flood insurance, meanwhile, is a multi-billion dollar business. It’s important to take care of small problems with your roofing or insulation before they turn into big problems. Holding off on the small stuff to make ends meet could mean that when there’s an emergency, you won’t be able to recover. If you fail to prepare …
5. Not re-evaluating your expenses. Too many of us are engaging in spending behaviors we can’t rein in because of a lack of budgeting. I bet most who are underinsured would be amazed to find out where their money is going, and how discipline and a redirecting of some of those funds for more comprehensive insurance can help in the long run. Don’t let disaster strike before you act.