As out-of-pocket health costs continue to rise, coverage exclusions become more apparent, and employers look to contribute less in their employees’ benefits – non-insurance discount health plans are becoming a bigger supplemental solution for people looking to fill insurance gaps and save money.
And, while discount health plans have been around for more than 25 years, there can still be some misunderstandings about the purpose of these non-insurance options and how plans work.
To help you get a better understanding, here’s an overview on the basics of these plans and what everyone should know about discount health plans.
First things first: Discount health plans are not insurance. The purpose of these plans is to complement your traditional insurance coverage or Medicare, save money on out-of-pocket health costs and make ancillary services more affordable. Also, discount health plans are not qualified plans under the ACA. (Read more)
How plans work: In exchange for a low-cost monthly fee, you get a membership, a list of in-network providers, and a discount off the regular fee of services when you visit those providers. Discount health plans are offered on an individual and family basis for a variety of ancillary healthcare services featured in stand-alone or bundled combinations. Also, there are no open enrollment periods with discount health plans, so you can purchase a plan at any time.
Types of healthcare services: Discount health plans offer savings on dental care, vision, alternative medicine, chiropractic and hearing. In addition, telehealth, which gives you convenient access to a large network of licensed doctors 24/7 in the comfort of your home, is often added to discount health plans. You can learn more about telehealth at Teladoc.
Savings to expect: Typically, discount health plans offer savings anywhere from 20% to 60% off the regular fee of healthcare services provided. For example, you could save anywhere from $220 to $660 off the cost of a $1,100 root canal procedure without insurance. Keep in mind that the savings offered by plans will vary based on services, procedure and location.
Things to check for: Like all health and financially-related choices you make, it’s important to do your homework. Check to make sure you are not duplicating your insurance benefits. Also, check for providers in your area – the discount health plan should have a list of providers to peruse before you sign up. And, as always, review the plan’s terms and conditions, and check for a 30-day refund or cancellation policy.
Where to find discount health plans: Plans are offered through a variety of organizations, financial institutions and national associations. You can search for a discount health plan that fits your needs directly through the Consumer Health Alliance’s member companies (click here). Also, you can ask your employer if they offer discount health plans on a voluntary or employer-paid basis.
To learn more about discount health plans, please visit our FAQ’s section here.