Consumer Health Alliance Releases Discount Health Care Programs Report
First-of-its-kind industry report highlights membership and value
discount health care programs bring to consumers and providers
FRISCO, TX (Jan. 12, 2017) – The Consumer Health Alliance (CHA) today released a discount health care industry report and survey which shows that nearly 27 million Americans are members of a non-insurance discount dental or discount vision program.
The report found that for 73 percent of discount vision plan members, a portion is paid for by their employer. For 57 percent of discount dental plan members, a portion of membership is paid for by their employer. These findings indicate that more employers offer discount programs as a supplemental cost-effective benefit in a time of rising health insurance premiums.
“Instead of eliminating their supplemental benefits, many employers are offering and paying for a portion of non-insurance discount health care programs,” said Allen Erenbaum, President of CHA. “It helps employers provide a comprehensive package of benefits. It also helps employees and consumers bridge the gaps in insurance, access more affordable services, and save money on out-of-pocket health expenses.”
Survey respondents cited “the cost of services is too high” as the number one reason for not going to the dentist or eye doctor more often (44 percent for dental care, and 42 percent for vision). Non-insurance discount plans typically offer 20 to 60 percent savings off the regular fee of dental and vision procedures, in addition to discounts on many other services, including: chiropractic, hearing, alternative medicine, veterinary care, gym memberships and weight loss programs.
Among the most popular type of discount programs are discount dental plans, also referred to as dental savings plans. More than 60 percent of these plans cost less than $200 for an annual membership—compared to 37 percent of traditional dental insurance policies.
The report, titled “Discount Health Care Programs: Evolution and Prospects for Continued Growth,” features data from a consumer and provider survey which focuses on discount dental plans, discount vision plans, dental insurance and vision insurance. The first-of-its-kind national survey was commissioned by CHA, the national trade association for discount health care programs, and conducted by health care research and consulting firm Leavitt Partners.
Additional information and findings in the report include:
• Membership demographics, how discount health care programs work, and the key differences between discount plans and insurance.
• Both consumers and providers report that a majority of members save 40 to 80 percent on dental and vision services, with median savings of 50 to 60 percent.
• Dentists estimate that 11 percent of all dental patients pay for procedures through a discount dental plan.
“Discount health care programs are easy to use, have a low-cost to join, and offer real value for members,” said Erenbaum. “These programs are not about replacing medical insurance. They are about getting better prices on many of the supplemental services left out of most available insurance coverage.”
“The reality is that discount health care programs have been around for nearly 30 years,” added Erenbaum. “Today, these programs are offered by trusted discount plan companies, employers, banks, associations, state and local governments, and more. Meanwhile, programs are regulated in most states.”
As of 2016, 34 states directly regulate discount health care programs, of which 23 require programs to be licensed or registered with the state (typically with the state insurance department). High levels of consumer protection are written into these statutes and enforced by state insurance departments.
To conduct the survey, Leavitt Partners screened a nationally representative panel of 18,489 consumers for membership in a discount dental or vision program—of which 1,109 qualifying consumers were surveyed online. In addition, nationally representative panels of 525 dental and vision providers participating in a discount provider network were assembled and then surveyed by a contracted call center. The margin of error for the full consumer sample was +/- 2.9 percent.
About the Consumer Health Alliance
The Consumer Health Alliance (CHA) is the national trade association for discount health care programs. Founded in 2001, CHA serves to educate consumers and regulators about the benefits of non-insurance discount health care programs, promote consumer-friendly business practices, and work with state legislators and regulators to ensure that regulation of the industry protects consumers' right to access affordable health care services at discounted rates.
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