You’re healthy, right? So you think you don’t need health insurance. You could be right, but if you’re wrong, that trip to the emergency room is really going to cost you. How much? Try $1,200. That’s what says the average ER visit costs. Imagine having to pay such a steep medical bill along with your other personal bills. That could be challenging.

Enter the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA was signed into law in 2010 with a goal of making health insurance more affordable for all Americans, even those with a preexisting condition. The health insurance Marketplace was created under ACA as a place where consumers can compare their options and choose coverage for themselves and their families.

Here’s why you should consider enrolling in health insurance.

  1. Pay less for doctor visits. With insurance, you pay monthly premiums whether or not you become ill. If you do become ill, those premium payments help cover your medical costs. Along with collecting premiums, insurers negotiate prices for certain services, including doctor visits. Those negotiations help lower your costs and lead to the discounted rates for doctor visits.  
  2. Free preventative services. Under ACA, all qualified health plans must meet minimum essential coverage requirements, and they must offer free preventative services, such as screenings for cancer, certain vaccinations, mammograms and more.
  3. Prescription medicines cost less. Each time you fill a prescription, take note of the amount you pay. With insurance, your costs will be reduced because your insurer picks up part of the payment.
  4. Always be protected. You could choose a plan that provides coverage even when you travel out of state or the country.  A health insurance agent can help you decide which plan may be best for you.
  5. Avoid the tax penalty. Individuals who do not enroll in health insurance and are not eligible for a coverage exemption, will have to pay a penalty with their tax return. For 2014, the penalty is 1% of your taxable household income, or $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, whichever is greater. This penalty will increase in 2015 to 2% of your taxable household income, or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, whichever is greater. Being enrolled in a qualified health plan will waive this penalty.

You have until February 15, 2015 to enroll in health insurance coverage through the Marketplace unless you qualify for the special enrollment period. The sooner you enroll, the earlier your health insurance coverage will begin. You can also visit your local Liberty Tax® office to speak with an insurance agent about health coverage or call our ACA hotline at 1-800-673-8600.