Anthem Blue Cross
With over 45 Million people in this country without medical coverage, and depending on where you live, the challenges involved in obtaining individual medical insurance sometimes daunting – many Americans find themselves seeking out so-called "discount health plans" as a reasonable alternative to traditional health insurance. Understand first that a discount health plan is not medical insurance, rather as the name implies it is a way to obtain healthcare and medical services at more reasonable or discounted prices.
In a discount health plan you are usually required to join a group, and then membership in the group entitles you to sometimes deeply discounted prices at doctors, dentists, and other healthcare providers that the operators of the health plan have negotiated with. This is why sometimes people will confuse a discount health plan with heath insurance because like an HMO or PPO there is a "network" of participating doctors in the plan, however unlike medical insurance, though discounted you are required to pay the entire fee for the services provided. Also unlike actual medical insurance a discount plan does not offer you any protection from financial devastation should an accident or catastrophic illness occur. Still for many they offer a reasonably priced alternative to traditional insurance - enrolment in such plans can cost as little as 30.00 dollars monthly, but typical plans average about 70.00 -100.00 per month - and many people may opt for a hospitalization or catastrophic illness only medical insurance policy for a relatively low cost premium and join up with a discount plan to cover their other health related expenses. Also a discount plan is guaranteed no matter what your health or pre-existing condition, and so for many with a chronic illness like diabetes who have been turned down over an over again by private insurers the discount plan is not only reasonable, it may be their only alternative.
There are some drawbacks to discount plans. One, since they are not insurance they are not regulated by any state or federal authorities, fraud and unscrupulous business practices by operators of discount plans are not unheard of. As with any business you can check with your states attorney generals office if there are any complaints or outstanding suits lodged against the company you are contemplating doing business with for the purchase of a Discount Health Plan. And you can always check with your local Better Business Bureau. Consumer Protection professionals suggest the following before purchasing any discount heath plan no matter how reasonably priced.
Consumer advocates also remind you to check with the providers you are thinking about using who participate in the health plan, if they would be willing to give you a reasonable discount without joining the plan, many providers do offer discounted services or flexible payment arrangements to patients without insurance.