What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Discount Health Plan

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Discount Health Plans vs Cancer Health Insurance

Discount health plans are not the same as cancer health insurance:

  • Cancer health insurance pays for a range of health care services, treatments and drugs in exchange for monthly premiums.
  • Discount health plans negotiate discounts with a network of health care and medication providers in exchange for a monthly fee. People with a discount health plan usually receive a card which means they are still required to pay for services but entitles them to receive certain discounts.

Some discount health plans offer real benefits; others may be fake or scam plans with no real benefit.

Benefits of real discount health plans

  • They are much cheaper than cancer health insurance. They normally cost between $10 and $100.
  • They offer discounts from participating healthcare providers, for example doctors.
  • They offer discounts on prescription drugs.
  • The companies claim people can save 10%-50% on their medical bills.

Problems with dodgy discount health plans

Discount health plans are unregulated in most states. This means people don’t always get what they think they are getting.

Some discount health plans are mis-sold as insurance. Companies use phrases like “health benefits” and “protection” which can be misleading. Thinking you have insurance when you do not can lead to unexpected bills coming through your door. This can be especially bad if you left your old insurance provider thinking you had found a better deal.

In fact, some cards offer no actual benefits or discounts, the companies just take your money.

Consumer watchdogs contest the actual savings provided by many cards. Advertised savings are often inflated or not applicable to most people.

Some health plan providers lie about the number of healthcare providers in their network. Some may not even have a network of providers.

Some plans have hidden fees which cancel out any benefit the discounts may have provided. Dodgy providesr – those pulling any of these tricks mentioned - may also steal your data and cash. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission claims one discount card company made unauthorized charges to peoples’ credit cards.

How to avoid dodgy discount health plans

  • Explicitly ask if what you are buying is cancer health insurance or a discount health plan card.
  • Check the card actually covers the treatments you need, and, with the costs of the card taken into account, makes them cheaper.
  • Don’t accept the meaning of words used in advertisements at face value. Always ask for clarification. If the sales person is reluctant to give you answers, treat that as a warning sign and go elsewhere.
  • Read the all terms can conditions to see if the plan checks out. Check for hidden charges, particularly fees for using the card. Also, make sure there are no exclusions which mean you won’t be eligible to receive the discounts.
  • Double check with the providers they list in their network to see if they do actually offer discounts to card holders of that particular health plan.
  • Don’t hand out your credit card details straight away. Make sure the company is legit first. You can check with your state insurance department or by running a search on Google.
  • Find out about the cancelation procedure. Is it simple? Can you easily get a refund if you are not satisfied?

Report scams to your state insurance department and the Better Business Bureau. You can also check with these guys to see if they have received complaints about the company you are talking to.

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