Educational Consumer Tips
Better Business Bureau
If you are looking for health insurance, make sure that you are buying the actual insurance instead of a discount medical plan. Otherwise, you will be overwhelmed with many medical bills and will have no way to pay them. The reason for this is because sometimes what sounds like highly affordable health insurance is actually a discount medical plan. These discount plans could serve as a way to save money on health care costs, but they are not health insurance.
It is important to be aware of these discount medical plans to avoid losing out on healthcare you really need. There are some plans which are going to provide you with genuine discounts, but others are only going to take your money without giving you anything substantial in return. It is important to understand the details of these offers to avoid thinking you are being given health insurance when you are not or when the details of the plan are not made clear enough to understand.
If you are asking why this matters, it is because health insurance is meant to cover a broad spectrum of services and either pay you or the health care provider for services rendered and medical bills. Purchasing a medical discount plan is pretty much just getting a list of providers and sellers who are going to provide you with some type of possible discount on services you may obtain through them. They are not paying for your health care costs.
They may promise you things such as discounts up to a certain percentage, but you should be cautious about these offers. In general, the savings with discount plans are really not as much as they are claiming to get you to purchase their services. If you consider the potential enrollment fees and monthly premiums, you may end up paying more than it is really worth. Above all, you will need to pay for all of the medical services and fees you could face in an emergency if you don't actually have health insurance to accompany your discount medical plan.
Checking the details for the plan is a great way to make sure you are staying safe. The discount plans cannot stand in the place of health insurance. If you are interested in these plans, take the time to check with your doctor to see if they are participating in the plan. Call around and do the research before enrolling or paying any type of fees. Some of these plan providers may say doctors participate who don't or send outdated lists.Check out every claim, and get the details of any discount plan in writing before you sign up.
Trusted plans should be willing to send you towards written information without a problem. If you are asked to sign up right now or lose out on any chance to save money, you should walk away. Also, don't give out personal information to anyone who calls you and states they want to enroll you in a discount medical plan immediately without letting you check out the legitimacy of the business. You can check out their reputation with your local BBB or even by typing in the company's name into a search engine along with the words "scam" or "complaint."
Your state insurance commissioner’s office can tell you if a plan is not insurance (and licensed in your state), and may be able to alert you to a scam. Find your contact at naic.org or consumeraction.gov. Learn more about medical discount plans at ftc.gov/health.