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Health Insurance – Is it Possible to Pay Less?

Discount health insurance may seem like a contradiction in terms, but there are plans and policies offering varying levels of discounts. How much you might be able to save will depend on a lot of factors however, and "discount" does not always mean what you might think it means.

As health care premiums continue increase, nearly everyone is eager to find more affordable health insurance. With this comes an increase in the numbers and types of products trying to fill this void. One product recently gaining a lot of attention is the "discount health card". Unfortunately, these products are frequently positioned as health insurance products or policies, which can be very misleading – often intentionally so.

Although it's often difficult to distinguish, it's important to understand the difference between health insurance and discount health cards. A discount health card is not health insurance, but rather more like a "discount club". These cards can save reasonable costs, but they are not insurance. A legitimate card can provide discounts on some services, prescriptions, dentist, doctor office visits, etc.

Most discount health plans come through "health maintenance organizations", the now-familiar HMO. An HMO lowers it's costs by using it's size, the number of active participants, to sign up participating doctors, clinics, etc., and negotiate prices for services that can be significantly lower than "direct" pricing.

For employees, low-cost insurance comes through employer-provided group insurance plans. These plans may include HMO's, and the underlying cost-structure is the same: larger groups can negotiate lower costs.

Some states offer low-cost or discounted insurance for children through the SCHIP or State Children's Health Insurance Program. This program charges a small monthly fee along with a nominal co-payment when care is rendered or prescriptions are filled. Availability is based on income, and generally only those low low wages will qualify.

If you're at the lowest-end of the income scale, you might qualify for Medicaid, an excellent program for those who qualify. Medicaid is free. In addition, Medicare recipients may also qualify for additional assistance from Medicare.

Even those who's medical health care is provided through Medicaid have choices. Visiting the US Health and Human Services Department can give you additional information.

For those who qualify and want to join the American Association of Retired Persons, there is help provided for those receiving Medicare.

Discount health insurance may not be easy to find, but it is not impossible either. As with so many other things though, the burdens falls on the consumer to find and understand what their options are. You'll have to make the effort to research what's available, and learn a little bit about the health care industry in order to fully understand your options, avoid falling prey to scams, and understand exactly what you are getting for your hard-earned money . With that said, those who do take the time and make the effort may find them amply rewarded: according to the US Health and Human Services Department, the difference in overall costs – premiums and co-payments – between discount health insurance and "full- retail "prices can be as much as 50% or more!

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