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Alternatives to Standard Health Insurance Options

If you are unable to get coverage because of a pre-existing condition—such as stroke, heart attacks, or diabetes, you may need to consider some other options. However, before settling for something that is not considered "insurance," be aware that if you go 63 days without coverage, it can be even more difficult to get true insurance later on. Most of the following options are NOT insurance, so be sure to ask.

Discount Plans

With the high cost of health care, discount plans have become very common and are often the first offers you receive if you make an inquiry through the internet. The discount plan charges you a premium in return for a negotiated, reduced payment to a doctor or hospital. The plan does not pay the hospital for you. You simply pay 20% to 60% less than the hospital would bill an insurance company. Some plans claim to reduce your bill by up to 80%. It is rare however, to find that much of a reduction. Talk to someone in the business office of your local hospital or to your doctor before taking such a plan. These plans are not considered insurance, but will generally not apply if you do have insurance.

Indemnity Plans

These are plans that pay you directly in the event of accident, illness or hospitalization. They are best known for paying in the event of an accident, but because of the multitude of uninsured Americans, they have expanded. You pay a premium which can cover you or your entire family. If you have an accident or illness, you file a claim and the company sends you a check. For example, you may receive 200 to 600 per day for hospitalization, or some other amount for outpatient care or emergency room care. Some plans have a lengthy schedule showing exactly how much they pay for each type of claim they accept. Be careful, however, that if you are supposed to receive payment for hospitalization, it is for any reason, not for accident only. These plans are definitely not insurance, although some will have "insurable" elements. Because they are not considered insurance, you can have more than one and can keep the indemnity plan—and collect on it—even if you have insurance.

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