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With open enrollment in the
Health Insurance Marketplace beginning October 1, 2013, many people who were unable to obtain coverage or seeking other options in health insurance will be able to shop providers, find discounts on coverage, and compare
plans side by side to make choices as to which provider will best suit their needs. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or ObamaCare, new rights and protections are available for
individuals seeking lower monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs for coverage, or free or low-cost healthcare through government programs such as Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program. The Affordable Care Act assures essential health benefits,
including doctor visits, preventive care, hospitalization, prescriptions, lab tests, and more. With so many options available, Business Consumer Alliance advises you to be on the lookout for medical discount plans that may be disguised as health insurance.
Discount medical plans or discount health cards offer lower rates on eligible services through participating network providers. Many of these plans are marketed as health insurance, but beware: discount health cards are not insurance. If you purchase a
health insurance plan, it generally will cover a broad range of services and pay for a portion of your medical bills. With medical discount plans, you are responsible for paying the medical bills yourself. These cards simply offer lower prices to members who
use participating service providers that accept the discounts. These plans should not be viewed as a substitute for insurance.
Some health discount plans are marketing grossly inflated promises about savings and benefits but costing far more than they’re worth. Since discount cards aren’t insurance, there may be fewer consumer protections because your state’s insurance department
may not regulate them, and or require licensing for salespersons who may not need a license or a background in healthcare.
Before making a purchasing decision, keep in mind that discount plans can be sold by anyone, at any cost, and with any benefits. They are not licensed insurance products, even when sold by insurance agents. The protections and rights available to consumers
under health insurance plans may not be available to members of a discount plan.
Here are some tips if you’re considering purchasing a discount plan:
If you’re a victim of a scam, be sure to
file a complaint.
Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, medical discount cards
The Consumer Ally program is free for consumers to join. At BCA, we feel it's very important to educate the public on trends like scams, new laws and providing helpful tips to empower the public in making wise purchasing decisions. This program is an elite community of consumers who share our vision for a safe marketplace. We can't be everywhere at once so we depend on feedback from the public to help our efforts.
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BCA is a non-profit organization that promotes business self-regulation and encourages exemplary business practices. BCA's editorial staff consists of industry experts with years of experience involving marketplace trends and scams that defraud the public. BCA is committed to educating the public about the marketplace so consumers and business owners can make well-informed decisions. If you have inquiries or suggestions on specific topics for us to cover, please contact us.
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