Discount Medical Cards

Written by Sarah Provost
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Discount medical cards have become an increasingly important component of America's health care. More and more, employers are reducing health care benefits or reclassifying positions to eliminate benefits entirely. Discount medical cards are taking up some of that slack, but it's not wise to depend on them for all your medical care needs.

Discount Medical Card Programs Are Not Insurance

It's important to realize that participating in a medical discount program does not mean that you are insured. With medical insurance, you or your employer pay an annual premium, and the insurance company is committed to paying a set percentage of whatever medical care you might need. They are, in effect, gambling on your good health to make their profit. If you should require extensive medical care, they could sustain very significant expenses.

With a discount medical card program, you pay a smaller annual fee, and in return get a discount, usually 10 to 50 percent, on any services you use. The company negotiates with providers to offer this discount in return for exclusive referrals. The company does not pay the difference. If you require extensive care, you will pay for all of it, at the discounted price. The company is taking no risk.

The best use of discount medical programs, therefore, is for everyday care. Some people also use them to reduce their expenses if their insurance has a high deductible. It is still prudent to have some medical insurance in case of catastrophic illness or accident.


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