Health Discount Plans
With the rising cost of health care and prescription drugs, consumers are looking to health discount plans for relief. Many of these discount plans claim to offer savings on prescription drugs, doctor and dental visits, vision care or other medical services. Advertisements often found on the internet, through infomercials or in "spam" e-mail or faxes boast that consumers can save up to 30% or more for such services. Generally, the plans indicate there is a network of providers who will discount their charges for plan members.
Consumers who are confused by these health discount plans often believe they are purchasing insurance.
Health discount plans are not considered health insurance and currently are not regulated in all states. Consumers should review plan materials carefully to be certain the benefits are worth the cost.
Consider the following facts about these plans before making a purchase.
- Health discount plans can be sold by anyone at any cost with any benefits. They are not licensed products, even when sold by licensed agents.
- The protections and rights available to consumers under health insurance plans may not be available to members of a discount plan.
- Providers in the discount plan's "network" are often bound by contract to participate in the plan and may stop offering the discount at any time (without notice to plan members).
- Many plans claim savings up to a certain percent. However, "up to 40%" does not mean a guaranteed 40% savings.
If you are considering enrolling in a health discount plan, ask the following questions:
- Is this plan an insurance product in Utah?
- What is the annual cost of the plan?
- What are the benefits?
- Do the providers I frequent accept the discount card?
- Who do I call if I have a problem with the discount plan?
- When receiving services that require immediate payment, is there a way to know I am actually getting the discount?
- Can I cancel at any time?
Check with your provider as the information given by the plan could be inaccurate.