For some of us—especially those who are young and fit—questioning whether health insurance is worth it is a common problem to explore. After all, why spend so much money on coverage when the chances of needing it seem slim?

From a particular financial perspective, being uninsured makes sense. However, as much as we like to believe we’re immortal, accidents do happen. When they do, and when there’s no health coverage to rely on, the damage is swift and severe. On top of suffering a health crisis, you’re now burdened with debt that could otherwise have been avoided.

Why exactly is health insurance important? Let’s take a look at why individual health insurance should be a priority.

It Could Save Your Life

The fact of the matter is, health insurance could save your life. It provides the peace of mind to seek medical attention even for minor discomfort, which could mean early diagnosis and intervention, potentially preventing the development of a life-threatening condition. By alleviating the fear of financial burden, a dull ache or infection can be treated quickly, as opposed to trying to just “walk it off” in an attempt to save yourself the doctor’s fee. In fact, those that are insured are shown to embrace preventative care and early intervention more than those that are not.

It Will Save You from Financial Ruin

Medical emergencies are expensive. A single accident can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills. Surgeries, rehabilitation, hospital stays and medication only add to a tab that’s astronomically high. Although health insurance may seem like a hefty monthly expense, it immediately pays for itself if you ever find yourself in the ER.

Not Having Insurance can be a Burden for Others

Those that are uninsured are more likely to wait until their condition is extremely severe before they seek medical attention. This does two things: it creates an unnecessary burden in emergency rooms, as most conditions could have been prevented or treated beforehand, and it leads to hospital bills that frequently go unpaid. This results in hospitals and doctors charging everyone more to recoup their loss.

It’s a Sign of Self Worth

Do you have car insurance? What about home insurance? Have you ever insured a plane ticket? We pay to protect our belongings, so why not pay to protect ourselves? While damage to your material possessions can be costly, it’s nothing compared to the costs you would accrue if something were to happen to you. Do any of these things really matter if you don’t have your health? Having health insurance acknowledges just how valuable you really are.

You can’t be Insured Immediately

A common misconception about health care is that if something bad were to occur to your health, you could simply sign up for health insurance on the way to the hospital. Unfortunately, signing up for health insurance is usually only possible during an open enrollment season—or within 30 days of a significant event such as the birth of a child, marriage, or a career change. Most open enrollment periods have a short 2 to 3-month window around the beginning of each year. Make sure you plan ahead.

Health Insurance is Essential

Health insurance is not just important, it’s a necessity. While it may seem like a trivial expense to some, having health coverage will almost definitely save you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. The safety net that health insurance provides brings not only a sense of well-being and peace of mind, but it ensures you’ll seek medical aid the moment you suspect you might need it.

That alone will not only save you money—it might just save your life.

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