If you’re healthy, you might think health insurance isn’t necessary. Here are a few reasons to reconsider.

When we think about the importance of health insurance, our mind often goes to the worst-case scenario. Certainly, insurance is critical in the case of a serious injury or illness. Fixing a broken leg can cost $7,500, and a three-day hospital stay can run you $30,000. The price only climbs for more serious illnesses such as cancer — care can often total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

High medical bills are the top reason why Americans consider taking money out of retirement or filing for bankruptcy. Avoiding that sort of financial risk is reason enough to make sure you have adequate health coverage, but it’s only a part of the story.

Health Insurance Makes Treatment Less Expensive

When you purchase health insurance, you start benefiting immediately. Even if your plan has a deductible, you will pay significantly less for office visits than you would without insurance. Some plans also offer reduced-price generic drugs and free disease management programs. Plus, having health coverage can put you in a better position to prevent or spot difficult — and often costly — illnesses early on.

Preventive Care Helps You Stay Healthy

All plans purchased through Covered California include free preventive care, like annual check-ups and immunizations. Chronic disease management is also covered, and other health screenings are free, such as those for blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and depression. Early detection offers the best outcome of any diagnosis. Having health insurance may be the difference between getting timely treatment and not.

Consider the story of Kim from Atwater, California. After losing her husband to colon cancer, Kim felt compelled to get a screening — but she was uninsured and couldn’t afford to pay out-of-pocket. After signing up for a health plan through Covered California, Kim was able to get a colonoscopy and learned that she had an aggressive form of cancer. Through this early screening, Kim was able to get the surgery she needed before the cancer spread. “I consider myself to be one lucky cancer survivor,” she says.

You May Qualify for Financial Help — and Avoid Penalties

Since 2020, a state mandate requires that Californians have health insurance. Californians who fail to do so, and do not qualify for an exemption, will be charged a minimum of $900 for each adult and $450 per dependent under the age of 18 that is not covered. These amounts are for tax year 2023 and may vary from year to year. The good news is that financial help can reduce costs of health insurance for more people than ever before. To see if you qualify, check out Covered California’s interactive calculator.

Peace of Mind

All health insurance plans through Covered California cover essential health benefits, including laboratory services, prescription drugs, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental and behavioral health, emergency services and more.

No matter how young or healthy you are, no one is immune to accidents. Staying covered allows you to do the activities you love without the stress of a possible injury — and the associated cost — weighing on your mind.

Between the penalty for not having health insurance paired with the risk of notoriously high unexpected medical expenses, not having coverage puts you and your family at more of a financial disadvantage than signing up for health insurance ever could. Make sure you don’t go without coverage to protect your health and your financial future too.

Check out more information on getting the most out of your health insurance plan here.