Spotting Questionable Health Insurance Plans
Watchdogs worry about two different kinds of health insurance plans.
Feb. 2, 2010 — -- Health care overhaul is stalled, resulting in a proliferation of plans that don't fully protect people, officials said.
Watchdogs worry about two kinds of plans in particular. First, are health discount cards that say they get you cut rates on medical services but are not widely accepted. Second, are limited-benefit plans that offer such skimpy coverage that a serious medical problem could still leave you stuck with enormous bills.
As Tony Lloyd hit golf balls, pain seared across his shoulders making him weak. It was a textbook heart attack. But what happened next wasn't in any textbook.
"We never suspected anything," wife Mary Lloyd said.
As Lloyd lay in intensive care, his wife pulled out the card for a brand-new health plan she had purchased two months before. She hadn't realized it was not traditional health care coverage.
"The person in the patient accounting office said it was not insurance, and I was shocked," she said.
It was a United Service Association Healthcare discount card with limited medical benefits. You pay your own medical bills, but the card is supposed to get you a price break.
Critics said it's hard to find providers that participate in these programs, and that the discounts are tiny. The Lloyds said the hospital didn't accept their discount card, and they were left with a bill for $67,000.
"I have a hard time sleeping at night sometimes because I'm always thinking about how am I going to pay this bill?" Tony Lloyd said. "Are they going to take my house, or are they going to take my car? You know, I just don't know where it is going to end."