Insurance may not be the funnest thing to talk about, but when it comes to facing the unforeseen, it’s a super fun thing to have. As a millennial living in New York City, personal finances are often a struggle. Though I aspire to live the socialite life, I still often find myself living hand-to-mouth. For 76% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, it’s easy to forget that you’re only one emergency away from financial disaster. An unplanned car repair, illness or trip to the emergency room could easily result in a financial disaster. According to a recent Aflac survey, 35% of millennials have set aside less than $500 for unexpected medical expenses. Unpaid or late payments could ultimately affect your credit score which could make it difficult to buy a car, rent an apartment or secure a loan.
Sadly, millennials have greater financial disadvantages than previous generations. With the struggles of student loans, the Great Recession and low wages, we may be setting ourselves up for additional debt by not making sound benefits choices during open enrollment. To avoid ending up in an unexpected financial disaster, the experts at Aflac suggest that you start thinking of your health insurance premiums as a monthly budget essential like rent, rather than a discretionary expense, like entertainment. Educate yourself about how your insurance deductible works. Choosing a plan with a low monthly premium and a high deductible may give you more money in your paycheck, but could also result in unaffordable payments if you need medical care beyond covered preventive services.
If your company offers a health savings account as part of a high deductible health plan, contribute as much as the plan allows so you’ll have money set aside to help meet your deductible and other payments. Consider adding voluntary insurance products for more financial protection. Accident and Critical Illness plans work hand-in-hand with major medical plans, providing benefits to help policyholders with health-related costs their primary insurance may not cover. Those policies can also be used to help with out-of-pocket costs and other expenses that continue to roll in even if you’re too ill or injured to work.
One last word of advice I’d add is to know exactly what your insurance covers before you go to the doctor. Obviously, this is the last question you’d ask during an emergency. But, even routine visits to the doctor can result in unexpected expenses. I’m still paying off a $500 bill from a routine mole screening that my insurance didn’t cover. Knowing what’s covered before routine visits can help you avoid surprise bills just as much as having the right insurance plan and health savings account.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.