Warning about discount health care plans - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Warning about discount health care plans

MADISON (WKOW) -- From the WI Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection:

You keep looking for ways to lower your health care expenses. Then you read an ad offering what appears to be a way to pay for health care at a considerable savings

But if you buy, what are you buying and what are you really saving?

For example, there is currently a full page ad in a Madison newspaper that offers, free for 30 days, a card that will enable you to save on "doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and hospitals." However, when you check the list of providers, you may find few, if any, who actually provide a discount based on the card.

For example, department investigators found that under the category of "physician providers", the only listing in Madison, was a non-physician employed by a medical facility that doesn't accept discount cards.

"We are taking a close look at the recent ad. We have contacted a number of providers in different categories listed on the company's website, and none of those contacted are aware of the plan or participate in it. says Janet Jenkins, administrator of the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. "Also, the card is not really free for 30 days, because you must pay an $18 registration fee. Then, after 30 days, there are monthly fees ranging from $29.95 to $49.00."

Jenkins has this advice for consumers about managing health care costs:

* Before purchasing a card promising health care discounts, make sure you know providers that honor the card.

* Check to see if you qualify for Wisconsin's medical insurance program called Badger Care. Go to BadgerCarePlus.org

* If you need a discount, ask your health care providers for one.Your provider may offer one even without a card.

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