- What are discount healthcare programs?
Discount healthcare programs provide one part of the solution to the nation's healthcare crisis by enabling consumers to purchase healthcare products and services at discounted rates. Discount healthcare programs are not insurance and are not intended to replace insurance. In fact, many consumers choose a discount healthcare program to complement their health insurance plans by providing discounts on services such as vision, chiropractic, and dental care – which are often not covered by insurance plans.
- What types of services are typically included by discount healthcare programs?
Discount healthcare programs offer a wide range of services and products including dental services, prescription drugs, vision care, chiropractic procedures, hearing care, laboratory services, nurse information lines, vitamins and alternative medicine. You can choose a program that offers discounts on the services that you need.
- Who should use discount healthcare programs?
The wide array of choices in the discount healthcare industry and the many discounts available make it possible for everyone to enjoy the benefits of discount healthcare programs. Discount healthcare programs are designed to provide benefits for a wide-range of consumers. Discount healthcare programs offer substantial savings on everyday health-related expenses such as prescription drugs, eyeglasses and dental care – that they might otherwise not be able to afford.
For those with limited insurance, discount healthcare programs can offer discounts for services that may not be covered by insurance, such as vision, dental and chiropractic care.
- How do consumers join discount healthcare programs and how do they work?
You can join discount healthcare programs through an association, union or other entity with which you are involved. In addition, many of the country's large companies now offer discount healthcare programs to their employees as part of their benefits packages. You can also join directly through a reputable discount healthcare company, such as those associated with the Consumer Health Alliance.
Signing up for a program is easy. Complete an application and pay a monthly fee. You will receive a discount card and membership materials explaining the program. To access care and receive savings, a member must simply provide the discount card to a participating provider at the time health services are rendered and pay the discounted fee.
- How do discount healthcare programs offer such benefits?
Discount healthcare programs contract with networks of healthcare providers who have agreed to charge members a discounted rate. These rates are similar to the rates that healthcare providers charge other large customers.
- What is the difference between discount healthcare programs and health insurance?
Discount healthcare programs are NOT insurance. Discount healthcare companies that indicate otherwise are not being truthful. Unlike health insurance, there are no payments made to the provider by the discount healthcare company.
Discount healthcare programs afford consumers the opportunity to directly purchase healthcare services and products from providers at rates discounted below their retail rates. Members are required to pay the providers' discounted fees in full at the time healthcare services are rendered. Consumers are free to make their own choices about which services to purchase and from which participating providers to make those purchases.
Insurance plans, on the other hand, may limit or deny coverage for certain procedures. Insurance plans also pay healthcare providers on behalf of the consumer, while a discount healthcare program member is responsible for paying the entire discounted rate directly to the healthcare provider.
- I recently opened a Health Savings Account (HSA) in conjunction with my high deductible insurance plan. Why would I consider also having a discount health plan?
If your high-deductible insurance plan does not provide dental, vision, pharmaceutical benefits or coverage for family members, then a discount healthcare program could be complementary to your insurance plan.
- Do I still need insurance if I have a discount healthcare program?
Discount healthcare programs are not intended as a substitute for insurance. Discount programs and insurance plans frequently provide complementary benefits. That is why many of the nation's leading companies offer their employees both insurance plans and discount programs. CHA strongly recommends that each individual evaluate his or her own health needs and the benefits offered by each type of program.
- How can consumers be assured the discounts they are receiving are real?
CHA member companies enter into contracts with providers or networks of providers who have agreed to charge our members discounted rates. These rates, which are often substantially lower than the providers' retail rates, must be accurately described in the discount programs' membership materials. Members can always ask their providers to verify the savings that the discount program provides.
- How is CHA educating consumers about discount healthcare programs and companies?
CHA has developed background informational and educational materials for consumers and media.
- How can you tell if a discount healthcare program is reputable?
We recommend consumers look for the Consumer Health Alliance (CHA) logo on the company's marketing materials. CHA helps protect consumers' rights to choose affordable and reputable healthcare programs and products through education and advocacy, and has established an industry-wide Code of Conduct.
Each CHA member company is required to abide by CHA's Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct is the centerpiece of our efforts to promote good business practices within the discount healthcare industry, secure and protect consumers' rights to access affordable healthcare and inform the public about the benefits that discount healthcare programs offer to millions of Americans.
- What specifically does the Code of Conduct cover?
The Code of Conduct sets baseline standards to help ensure that discount healthcare companies conduct their activities with integrity, fairness and accountability.
The Code of Conduct mandates that member companies describe the terms and conditions of the program, including the nature and range of discounts made available to program members. It requires all participating providers to be under contract to offer discounted rates to members. In addition, the Code of Conduct outlines acceptable practices related to consumer marketing, customer service, complaint resolution and cancellation policies, among other matters.
CHA hopes that membership in the association is a sign that consumers can look to with confidence in determining the integrity of discount healthcare programs.
- Who belongs to CHA?
A current list of CHA member companies
that offer discount programs.