Are you young and healthy? 

Do you want inexpensive health insurance to avoid the Obamacare penalty?

Maybe you should consider a catastrophic health insurance plan.

Catastrophic plans don’t get much attention in the healthcare Marketplace.  They accounted for about 2% of total Marketplace enrollment in 2014, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis. That may be because they are available to individuals who qualify for a hardship exemption.

What makes the catastrophic plan inexpensive?  Just as the name implies, these policies are meant to protect you from sudden, unexpected, and serious medical events.They come with low premiums and high deductibles. That means you pay less per month, but you will be responsible for most of your medical bills. Under Obamacare, the insured cannot have more than $6,600 in out-of-pocket expenses for 2015, so most catastrophic plans set their deductibles at $6,600. The deductible is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in. 

By way of comparison, here are estimates on three Anthem HealthKeepers, Inc. plans available to a southeastern Virginia resident who is 24, makes $40,000 a year, and has no children.



HealthKeepers Catastrophic X 6600 0   


HealthKeepers Bronze X 25 for HSA

Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield HealthKeepers Silver Direct Access


$143 per month

$187 per month

$238 per month






Why have health insurance that doesn’t pay your medical bills?  That’s where the healthy part comes in. If you typically have few doctor visits each year, you also have few medical bills. Given that reality, you may not want more health insurance than you need. However, not all healthy people stay healthy forever. Let’s say you break a leg or require expensive emergency services. That catastrophic plan with the $6,600 deductible may come in handy.

Catastrophic plans also cover three primary care visits per year, and they offer free preventive services, even if you haven’t met your deductible. Those services include things like, complete medical exams, immunizations, and more.

What else should I know before I decide? People who should avoid catastrophic plans include those with diagnosed ongoing medical conditions, couples planning on making an addition to their family, or people taking non-generic or expensive brand-name medications. Individuals may want to use an Obamacare subsidy calculator to see if they qualify before choosing one of these plans because Obamacare subsidies cannot be applied towards catastrophic plans.  

Finally, if you do choose catastrophic coverage, it may be wise to set aside funds specifically intended to meet your deductible medical expenses for the year. Open enrollment is available until February 15, 2015, so you’ll need to sign up soon.


-- By Alice Robeson