With health insurance premiums skyrocketing 20-40% this year, it should come as no surprise that there are organizations preying on those looking for more affordable coverage. In the past few weeks, it has been brought to our attention that some companies are contacting people with offers of low-cost health insurance. They make outrageous promises of super-low monthly premiums, low deductibles, extensive networks and other enticing tales.
And while their pitch sounds like welcome news to many , the more scrupulous outfits could be putting you in a very bad position when it comes to your family's health insurance protection. They typically operate under company names you have never heard of, and are commonly referred to as fixed indemnity, insurance discount cards, and others. Technically, these are legal, though they might not do you much good when it comes time for treatment.
Here are a few things to be cautious of as you search for reliable, affordable health insurance.
Promising Premiums Too Good to Be True
Junk health insurance plans are easily identified; as they're typically offered at rates nowhere near the national industry average. Remember: premiums are universal across the industry. Period. The rates you're quoted online or over the phone, are exactly the same as what you would be paying by working with an agent. Discounting is not allowed, at all, nor is inflating the rates for additional profit. If you're being offered premiums that sound too good to be true, be extremely careful before signing, because they probably are.
No Stated Out of Pocket Maximum
This is a huge red flag, and one that everyone who's shopping for health insurance should be leery of. For the record, if your plan does not have a clearly-stated maximum out -of-pocket amount, you could be held liable for massive treatment bills. Less reputable providers rarely provide detailed coverage amounts in writing, and we've heard stories of companies trying to persuade shoppers into buying low premium/low deductible plans, with a zero out of pocket maximum. When the bill comes, though, most are informed that they're responsible for the full amount.
Questionable Hospital and Physician Networks
One of the big selling points of fixed indemnity plans, is the alleged freedom to see any doctor or hospital you choose. And this is true, you can. However, it doesn't mean that when you get there they're going to accept your "insurance". These plans don't contract with major carriers such a Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Aetna, UHC, Land of Lincoln (and should not be confused with the legit indemnity plans they offer). As a result, there are no defined in-network or out-of-network facilities to speak of, making everything technically out-of-network as far as payment goes.
You Can Be Fined for Non-compliance
Staying compliant with the Affordable Care Act is the only sure-fire way to avoid being fined for not having health insurance. The problem with many fixed indemnity plans, is that they're not technically health insurance. It's essentially a group pooling money together, with the people in charge providing you a slight discount off the final bill. They're not recognized by the ACA. If you bought one, not only are you playing roulette with your family's health, you're also putting yourself in the crosshairs for a hefty non-compliance fine at the end of the year.
Don't Fall for a Discount Medical Insurance Scams
If you've received a call from someone offering outrageously discounted health insurance, or if you're concerned that you may have fallen for it, we can help you find out. Premier is one of the leading health insurance agencies in the Chicago suburbs, and we've been helping families and individuals for over a decade.
Our staff consists of highly-trained licensed Illinois agents who understand the healthcare reform system, with the insight, experience and compassion to help you make the best choice for your loved ones. We work only with top-rated carriers and can show you a variety of coverage options, to help meet your budget and healthcare needs. Call us at 800-369-0287 to learn more, or write to us through our contact page.