Discount Health Plans vs. Health Insurance

Health and medical insurance is very expensive today. Frankly, if you don't have insurance through your employer, or are self-employed, you may be struggling with getting a reasonably priced dental insurance plan. The costs of an individual policy can be prohibitively high and the coverage is likely to be less than you'd get with any group plan or employer plan.

It's also possible that you are a person with a family and getting some kind of medical coverage is essential. After all, children get earaches and accidents happen. What are your options?

Well, you can consider a health care discount plan. A health care discount plan is NOT insurance. In fact, it is more like being a member of a group-buying club. Fundamentally, what you get for your membership is a discount on your health and medical services.

How do these discount plans accomplish this? With the power of the group behind them, the founders of such plans have negotiated a reduced fee for service with health care providers who are part of the discount plan. Medical professionals in the plan will consider this lower fee to be equivalent to payment in full. You will get that discount on the spot. You don't have to wait for reimbursement from your insurance. You don't have co-payments or deductibles to worry about.

For the price of a yearly membership, you will have the right to use any health care provider who is part of the group-buying club. You'll only pay for the services you actually use, as opposed to paying an insurance premium that often assumes a certain amount of health and medical services, which may or may not reflect you and your family.

Another bonus? Your membership fee is usually lower than the cost of yearly insurance premiums.

So, why would you get insurance anyway if a discount plan has so many advantages? Well, if you are making use of high-priced medical or health services, the discounts may not save you as much as having insurance would have. Also, since you pay as you go with discount plans, if you have a particularly challenging year, and there are many services to pay, you'll be paying a lot more out of pocket. Insurance tends to soften the impact of a bad year much more than a discount plan would.

Insurance will often either prevent you from making payments up front at all, or will reimburse you a greater percentage afterwards, compared to the discount you'll receive from a discount plan. Further, the services that are most often discounted highly are also the services that are the least expensive, routine care. If you need specialized care, the discount may not be very much.

Which means that you will have to consider your situation, your family members, and then decide if a discount plan is right for you? If you have children who may have some significant health problems, or if you have a family history of serious medical disease, you might want to purchase insurance. However, if you have a healthy family, or if insurance is prohibitively expensive for you because of your employment or other reason, a discount health care plan may be a good option.

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