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Medical Discount Plans Posing as Cheap Medical Insurance Posted: November 16th, 2009

By Kelly Richardson

Kelly C. Richardson, MEd is a freelance writer with over 15 years of experience and a digital entrepreneur. He's written for Fortune 500 companies, Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Wells Fargo.

If you think a discount medical discount plan is the cheapest health insurance you can buy, think again. MDPs are most certainly not cheap health insurance. In fact, they're not medical insurance plans at all

Cheap Health Insurance Seekers: Avoid Medical Discount Plans Like the Plague

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, has longed warned of the thousands of Americans who believe that the medical discount plans (MDPs) their applying for are actually cheap health insurance plans. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you see an offer that advertises an 'Affordable Healthcare Plan', 'Discounts up to 60 percent', 'No Deductible or Co-pays', 'Pre-existing conditions? No problem!', or 'Thousands of providers in our PPO network', chances are you're not getting insurance at all.

Cheap Health Insurance? Nope!

It's a sad situation when millions of uninsured individuals will believe pretty much any promise of cheap health insurance. Medical discount plan businesses take full advantage of that fact. Deceptive marketing practices are in the crosshairs of FTC legislation in order to help protect consumers from predatory programs. You can file a complaint with the FTC if you believe you've been duped.

Some MDPs get away with including most of the 'non-insurance' explanation in the fine print. That's why it's critical to read anything and everything in a contract before you sign. If you have access to a lawyer, a second set of eyes wouldn't hurt either.

Make No Mistake: MDPs Still Provide Benefits

Medical discount programs may not measure up to even the cheapest health insurance out there, but they do provide some level of benefit for consumers unable to pay the costs of real insurance. According to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, medical discount plans typically features the following:

  • A Consumer's Club. A membership fee entitles the consumer to discounted procedures at participating doctors
  • Multiple Categories. Membership typically includes discounts on medical, dental and vision care, pharmacy and chiropractic services
  • Cash or Card. Some MDPs require you to pay for all services in cash while others require use of a discount card to receive benefits

Here's a good rule of thumb. Real cheap health insurance can only be sold face-to-face by a licensed insurance agent. So any medical discount plan that you see advertised on the radio, TV, or Internet should raise a red flag.

Kelly Richardson

Kelly C. Richardson, MEd is a freelance writer and blogger for traditional and holistic healthcare. He's written content for Scientific Compliance, CareResource and Ascot Diagnostic Services.