Health Insurance Vs. Medical Discount Plan: Which is Better?

Health care is costly. For this matter, no one can afford to be without health coverage. On the other hand, unless your employer is willing to pay for health insurance, you may be unable to afford coverage. If so, your only option is paying for doctor’s appointments and prescription medications out-of-pocket. Persons with few health problems may choose to go without health coverage. This is risky because accidents and unanticipated events may arise. Without health coverage, you could end up owing the hospital a ton of money.

Of course, there are affordable health options. You may choose a health plan with limited benefits. For example, there are insurance plans with high deductibles and co-pays. Even though these monthly premiums are less, you will pay more for doctor visits. Normally, females pay more for health coverage. However, if a female were to decline a maternity rider, she could save money on health insurance. With a maternity rider, a healthy, non-smoker female would pay around $220 a month. On the other hand, the monthly premium without a maternity rider could be as low as $100 a month. On the downside, if an unplanned pregnancy occurred, the female without a maternity rider would have to pay the cost herself.

Even though everyone needs health insurance, some people simply cannot afford the premiums. Rather than living without coverage, these persons should strongly consider a medical discount plan. Medical discount plans are not insurance. Most insurance plans cover the full cost of doctor appointments, medical procedures, prescriptions, and so forth. On the other hand, discount plans simply provide a discount on certain services. For example, if the discount plan offers a 30% discount on doctor visits, and the average visit costs $120, you are expected to pay $90 upfront. With an actual health insurance plan, co-pays range from $5 – $30 per doctor visit.

When choosing a medical discount plan, there is the option of receiving discounts on medical, vision, prescription, dental, and chiropractic care. Monthly fees depend on the discounts chosen. For example, a simple dental discount may only cost $9.95/month. On the other hand, complete discount coverage may cost $29.95/month. Features of medical discount plans include:

� Immediate Coverage (Health insurance plans may have a waiting period, or refuse to cover pre-existing conditions for the first six months.)

� Monthly fee protects all household members.

� Choose own physician (Most health insurance providers have a network of doctors.)

� Large selection of participating physicians, specialists, and pharmacies.

Even though medical discount plans are better than nothing, they are not as advantageous as medical insurance. Persons with serious health problems and those requiring extensive medical care will not benefit from a discount plan. Even with a 60% discount on major medical procedures or surgery, you will still owe the hospital thousands of dollars. For example, a popular discount program offers a 45% discount on prenatal care and delivery, which includes Cesarean section. Yet, the average cost of having a baby ranges from $6,000 – $12,000. Even with no complications and a vaginal delivery, you can expect to pay at least $3,300 through a discount medical plan. On the other hand, health insurance plans pay the entire prenatal and delivery cost after a small deductible.

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