As anyone who has had to pay for health insurance directly can tell you, the cost of insuring a family of 4 has risen tremendously over the past few decades. Many small and medium sized businesses can no longer afford to provide their employees with expensive major medical policies. Increasingly, companies are asking employees to shoulder more of the burden of health insurance, and many companies have terminated their health insurance benefits, altogether.
Other companies do not take on full time workers, so that they can save the cost of providing health insurance for their employees. If your company does not provide health insurance, most likely you will either have to purchase an expensive major medical policy on your own or do without. Because the high cost of medical insurance can be out of reach for many, some families will choose to go without these important benefits. The cost of health insurance can take a big bite out of a middle income family's budget. These families are truly caught between.
They earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and other government assistance programs, but do not earn enough to afford the high cost of health benefits. Even if you can afford the high price of health insurance, if you suffer from even very treatable chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or heart disease, you can be refused coverage. Individuals have even been turned down for excess weight and prescription drug use. It seems like the major insurance companies are looking for reasons not to insure people, so those individuals who need it most may find themselves without any benefits. Fortunately discount health plans offer families a way to save money on their health care costs. But what are discount health plans, and how can they be used to help families and businesses? Discount health plans can be used in several different ways.
For those individuals or families that lack dental or health benefits, discount medical plans can be used as stand alone health programs. These discount plans provide important savings on all medical and dental services. Consumers can even save money on medical costs not normally covered by traditional insurance such as cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, orthodontia, Lasik eye surgery, and even alternative medicine.
Unlike traditional insurance, there are no limits on visits or services, no waiting periods, no age limits, and ongoing conditions are accepted. Businesses can save money by purchasing a health savings account or a catastrophic plan. A discount medical plan is purchased along with the high deductible plan. These supplemental benefits provide savings on routine costs while the catastrophic insurance provides a safety net for lengthy hospitalizations and complex care. By combining a high deductible insurance plan with a discount health program, companies can save money on their health insurance benefits while providing their valued employees with the security that they need. The discount dental plan is probably the most popular discount health program.
According to statistics, seven out of ten Americans do not have a dental plan. Among the 30% that do have dental insurance, most are underinsured. Many insurance plans do not provide treatment for ongoing conditions, have expenditure limits, waiting periods, and often don't provide for even necessary procedures such as orthodontic treatment. Cosmetic dentistry and implants are usually not covered.
Discount dental plans provide the consumer with an excellent choice for saving money on dental care. These affordable benefits are reasonably priced alternatives to expensive dental insurance. Savings can range from 25% for specialist treatment to 80% for exams. Most major dental procedures such as fillings, root canals, dentures, crowns and bridges, and orthodontic treatment are available through plan dentists at a 50% to 60% discount--literally cutting a family's dental bill in half. In addition, patients with ongoing conditions can qualify for these plans, and there are no restrictions on visits or services. Often these affordable dental plans offer value added services such as discounts on vision care, prescriptions, and chiropractic treatment.
Many discount health programs also offer a basic health plan which provides discounts on medical examinations and physician visits. Ancillary services such as laboratory tests, imaging studies (MRIs, CAT scans, mammograms), physical therapy, hearing aids, mental health services, and diabetic supplies are also provided at significant discounts. A 24/7 nurse line and wellness programs may also be included in a quality discount health program. Should the patient become hospitalized, the patient will be assigned an advocate who will negotiate the hospital bill and work out a payment plan based on the patient's financial situation.
Hospital bills have been drastically reduced through these advocacy programs. One company, AmeriPlan® USA, has introduced a prescription advocacy program. This program takes advantage of patient assistance programs available through large drug companies.
Eligible individuals with over $90 per month in prescription drug expenses, who meet income requirements, may be able to receive all or most of their prescriptions for just the cost of a small monthly service fee. Another popular plan is the combined medical and dental discount plan. This plan combines all of the features of our dental, vision, prescription, and chiropractic program with discounts on physician visits, ancillary services, hospital advocacy, and a 24/7 nurse line. When searching for a discount health program, here are some of my recommendations: Look for a company with membership in both the Consumer Health Alliance and the National Association of Dental Plans.
These two organizations set strict standards for discount dental and medical programs and are your assurance that the company maintains strict customer service standards. Also look for a company that offers a good choice of dentists, doctors, and other health care providers in your area. The company should also provide an 800 customer service number, a schedule of provider fees and services, and informational booklets and websites.
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