While DOJ does not regulate the insurance industry, we do enforce consumer protections against misleading claims about the nature of products or services offered to Oregon consumers. If you are looking to save money on health care, an ounce of prevention may mean much more than a pound of cure.
Medical discount plans. Medical discount plans claim to offer subscribers reduced costs on a variety of health services such as doctor visits, emergency care, prescription drugs and other treatments. Ads for medical discount plans often sound a lot like ads for health insurance, but they are very different products. In fact, consumers rarely see significant savings with medical discount plans.
A medical discount plan will not pay a subscriber’s health care costs the same way health insurance does. At best, a medical discount plan may offer a discount in provider fees, but such “discounts” generally do not add up to more than what a consumer may save by paying cash for medical services. Medical discount plan subscribers are responsible for paying the full cost of any medical care they receive, and discounts may only apply if they receive care from a participating provider. Some plans also have hidden fees that furthermore reduce the amount of money saved.
DOJ has seen several examples of predatory medical discount plans, which charge excessive fees for services consumers didn’t need or ask for – and never utilized. Frequently, these charges stem from fast-paced, high-pressure telephone solicitations.
If you are considering a medical discount plan, do your research before you sign on:
- Obtain the list of participating providers. Call the providers and confirm the services and discounts they are offering.
- Get it in writing. Make sure you understand the refund policy and any associated fees. If the company is reluctant to share information with you, walk away
- Add it up. Compare the total cost of joining the program over a given amount of time versus the amount of money you expect to save.
- Avoid high-pressure sales pitches. Take your time to weigh your options and choose the right plan – an aggressive salesperson is likely more interested in taking your money than saving your health.
Questions about health insurance. If you have questions about health insurance, need help finding the right plan or would like to file a complaint against an insurance company check out Consumer Information and Complaints website from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Insurance Division.
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