Medical Discount Plans
Medical Discount Plans provide discounts for medical services. These plans are not insurance. Most insurance plans cover most of the cost of doctor appointments, medical procedures, prescriptions, etc. Discount plans simply provide a discount on certain services.
The monthly cost depends on the discount chosen.
Because Medical Discount Plans are not insurance, they are not subject to the same regulations as health insurance. Check any plans in which you are interested to be sure they are legitimate - and that they provide discounts for the providers, facilities and services you need.
How Medical Discount Plans Work
Medical discount programs can include dental, drugs, vision, alternative medicine, diagnostic tests and preventive care. Unlike typical health insurance, there are no waiting periods, no claim forms to submit, no separate receipts to keep track of and no deductibles to meet. Cost can be as low as $15 a month.
Before purchasing, look at the plan closely. Limitations may be so strict that many plans are of little use to you if your medical condition requires continuing use of the medical system. For example, one plan we reviewed limits coverage for doctor visits to 4 per year. Do the math before you sign up.
Medical Discount Plans Do Not Count As "Creditable Health Insurance Coverage" For HIPAA Purposes
This becomes important if you get new health insurance. If the gap between your new and old coverage is no more than 63 days, thanks to a federal law known as HIPAA, the amount of time you had "creditable" health insurance coverage can reduce the amount of time your new policy can exclude coverage for your pre-existing health condition. If the plan is not "creditable," the amount of time you had the medical discount plan doesn't count.
How To Find A Medical Discount Plan
Search on “Medical Discount Plans” in your favorite search engine – or engines. Keep in mind that, by and large, Medical Discount Plans are not regulated.
How To Check On A Medical Discount Plan
If you are considering a plan, it is advisable to take the following steps:
- First look for signs that should make you wary of the plan. For instance, a plan that pressures you to act immediately, or suggests that it is only available for a limited time.
- Check with your insurance provider to see if it offers similar discounts without additional costs.
- Calculate the projected savings against the costs of the plan to find out if it is financially worthwhile.
- Ask for a list of health care providers and faclities that are in the plan.
- Are they providers and facilities you want to use?
- If so, call the providers you care about and confirm that they are indeed part of the plan.
- Check the plan with your local Better Business Bureau (which you can locate at www.bbb.org ). You can also contact your state's attorney general to find out if there have been complaints. (www.naag.org )
- Get the following in writing:
- The initial and annual cost of the plan.
- The list of benefits.
- The plan's refund and cancellation policy.
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