Discount Plans for Health Insurance?

Looking for health insurance? Make sure that’s what you’re buying, or you could find yourself on the hook for big medical bills with no way to pay them.

That’s because what sounds like affordable health insurance may be a medical discount plan instead.  Medical discount plans can help some people to save money on their health care costs, but discount plans aren’t health insurance.

Although some medical discount plans provide legitimate discounts, others take your money and offer very little in return.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and its state law enforcement partners also have found that dishonest marketers selling these plans have tried to make people think they’re selling health insurance, or have lied about what their plans really offer.

If you buy a health insurance plan, it generally covers a broad range of services, and pays you or your health care provider for a portion of your medical bills. If you buy a medical discount plan, you generally are paying for a list of providers and sellers who may be willing to offer “discounts” on some of their services, products or procedures. Medical discount plans don’t pay your health care costs.

“Discounts of up to 70%”–but how often will you save that much? Savings with discount plans typically are a lot less. When you consider a discount plan’s monthly premiums and enrollment fees, there may be no “discount” at all.  What’s more, if you have major health problems or an emergency, you will have to cover most, or all, of the bills if you don’t have health insurance.

For additional information go

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask student how they should react if they are pressured to sign up quickly or miss out on a “special deal”.
  • Why is it important to check with your state insurance department, your state Attorney General, and your Better Business Bureau before signing up for such discount plans?

Discussion Questions

  1. Why medical discount plans are not health insurance plans?
  2. Do medical discount plans pay for your health care costs?
  3. Are medical discount plans a good substitute for comprehensive health insurance plans?
Categories: Chapter 9, Health Insurance | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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