Lifestyle Money

Life Insurance and Health Insurance: What You Need to Know

life insurance and health insurance

As you get older, you learn that monthly expenses can start to add up once you start including costs of insurance. Having adequate insurance provides peace of mind in knowing that if something were to unexpectedly occur, you and your family are financially protected.

Because life and health insurance are technically optional, many question whether or not they actually need to pay for these policies each month. We will discuss the basics of both life insurance and health insurance to help you determine which coverage works best for your individual situation. 

Life Insurance 

Life insurance is important to have, especially once you obtain assets or start a family. The main purpose of life insurance is to pay out a death benefit to your chosen beneficiary or beneficiaries to replace lost income, medical expenses, and outstanding debts in an unexpected passing. You may be offered life insurance through your employer, but in the case that this coverage is not sufficient enough to supplement your income, you may choose to look into private life insurance policies. 

There are various types of life insurance to consider and because the different types can serve different purposes, it is best to take into account your financial status, lifestyle and reason for purchasing life insurance to determine which policy works best for you. The two main types of life insurance are term life and whole life policies.  

life insurance policies

Term Life Insurance 

Term life insurance policies are set for a certain number of years (anywhere from 10 to 30 years) and expire once the term ends. If you were to pass away before the end of the term you selected, your beneficiary would receive the death benefit payout that you chose when you selected the policy. However, if you do not pass away during the term of the policy, your coverage expires. You will pay for this policy with either an annual or monthly premium that has been determined based on your coverage amount, term and other factors such as your lifestyle and health status.  

To obtain a term life policy, you must take a medical exam where underwriters will look at various health risk factors, which will weigh into the cost of your premium. Term life insurance policies are usually less expensive than whole life policies because there is no cash value to the policy. Remember that since term life insurance policies take your age and health into account, younger individuals can lock in a much lower rate by purchasing life insurance earlier in life. 

settling insurance policies

Whole Life Insurance 

A whole life insurance policy, which can be referred to as a permanent life insurance policy or cash value policy, has three main types of policies to choose from — whole, universal and variable. Whole life insurance policies essentially serve two purposes: to provide a death benefit to your beneficiaries to cover your lost income, final expenses and outstanding debts. This type of policy can also be used as an investment because part of the premium you pay will go into a tax-deferred savings account that you can borrow upon at a later date if you choose to do so.  

Remember that if you borrow against the policy, that will reduce the death benefit amount. Because whole life insurance is also used for investment purposes, the premium will be much higher than a term life insurance policy. However, if you choose to cancel the policy after you have paid for it, you are entitled to some of the cash value.  

mother son playing

Determining the Type of Policy to Choose 

While there is no right answer to this, it’s important to consider the personal reasons for purchasing life insurance. If you are looking for an investment and are financially stable enough to fund a whole life insurance policy, this may be the right choice for you. However, if you are looking to provide support for those that depend on you financially at a lower rate, a term life insurance policy might prove to be a better option. 

Certain individuals could benefit from purchasing a term life insurance policy, such as new parents looking to provide protection to their minor children for a given period of time. Newly married or engaged couples who might be combining assets or obtaining property together and depend on the other’s income to pay for these assets are also good candidates for life insurance. Another group of individuals who could benefit from a term life insurance policy specifically are aging parents who are looking to subsidize care that their adult children may have provided or to leave a legacy through their life insurance once they pass.  

aging citizens insurance

Lastly, a group that is often overlooked for obtaining life insurance is college students or young adults whose parents may have cosigned on a private student loan with them. This is because if a student unexpectedly passes before the debt is paid, the parents could be left responsible to pay the remaining balance. 

Health Insurance 

Health insurance subsidizes medical expenses such as prescriptions, doctor visits, surgeries and hospital stays by contributing to some or all of these expenses that you may incur. The types of health insurance available can vary greatly. Still, it is important to consider the costs associated with purchasing a policy and the costs associated with not having a policy. 

Health insurance can be obtained privately, through the government, or through an employer, so it’s important to check the regulations in your state to determine the best option for your coverage. Many states offer financial assistance to help pay for premiums if you make below a certain amount of money. If you are under 26, you can stay on your parents’ health insurance even if you are no longer considered financially dependent or don’t live with them. 

happy mother daughter

If this is not an option or you are over 26, most employers will offer some form of health insurance that you can opt into once you start working for the company or after a waiting period ends. This is usually less expensive than purchasing a private plan, and sometimes employers have different levels of coverage that would best suit your needs. Consider your personal health needs when looking into a plan and carefully read the terms of each option that is available to you. 

If you are younger and relatively healthy, you might be able to get away with carrying a catastrophic policy with a high deductible either through your employer or state’s marketplace. A catastrophic policy has lower monthly premiums but has a higher deductible that must be met before you have any coverage. For example, if you go to the doctor once or twice a year, you would most likely pay for the price of the visit in full but would have saved each month on paying higher premiums. However, if you have a major health issue occur, you will only owe up to the deductible, which could save you thousands, considering you wouldn’t be responsible for the full price of the medical issue. 

doctor appointment assessing health

Furthermore, if you have a spouse or children, you are eligible for a family plan or a spousal plan that also covers their medical costs. Remember to compare your company’s health insurance offerings to your spouse’s to make sure your family is obtaining coverage that makes the most sense. Look into the different tiers of plans offered and consider how much you go to the doctor’s in a given year to make sure that you are not over-insured and paying more than you need to have the highest level of coverage. 

Once you hit certain milestones in your life, it is important to be adequately insured to protect your future financial stability, your family and your assets. Life and health insurance both serve this purpose by protecting your income and your health while also giving you added peace of mind. Remember that with careful consideration and research, you can ensure that you are adequately covered without paying extra for this coverage, giving you peace of mind for your future. 

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About the author

Mihaela Buzec

Mihaela is an online content developer for RENTCafé.com. She has a BA in English Language and Literature and is now studying for an MA in Current Linguistics. She is a passionate reader, writer, and researcher, with a background in academic writing. You can get in touch with Mihaela at mihaela.buzec@yardi.com.

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