Here’s our latest pick of the most interesting and useful health and wellness stories from across the Internet.
Medicare’s Maze – How to Maximize Benefits
FoxBusiness.com interviewed Allen Erenbaum, President of the Consumer Health Alliance, to find out how to best manage Medicare exclusions, fill health care gaps and save money on out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Erenbaum explained that original Medicare (Part A and B) does not cover many supplemental services, and those out-of-pocket health costs can add up quickly.
Some of the more common supplemental services not covered by Medicare are most of your dental care, including cleanings, fillings, implants or dentures; routine vision care such as exams, eyeglasses or contact lenses; your hearing exams and hearing aids; and alternative medicine therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic services.
There might be some exceptions to these exclusions depending on the Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) options available in your area. Check the online search tool at Medicare.gov to see if a test, item or service you need is covered.
Need to fill in gaps in your healthcare coverage affordably? For dental care, Erenbaum recommends dental savings plans (also called discount dental plans) to help reduce the cost of routine or big-ticket procedures like root canals and crowns, or even bridges, implants and dentures.
“You can join these non-insurance plans at any time and use them immediately to get a discount ranging from 20% to 60% off the regular cost of procedures at participating dentists. You can search for plans and available providers in your area at :DentalPlans.”
And many of the plans available on DentalPlans.com also offer savings on prescriptions, vision and hearing care services. Healthcare savings bundles such as :DP HealthNow offer significant discounts on the best of modern medicine, including around the clock free consultations with local doctors.
Discount Benefits Plans Mature
Affordable alternatives to health insurance, such as dental savings plans, have been around for just over two decades. A great article on benefitspro.com takes a look at the history of these plans, noting that “for a few dollars per month, per person, plan members get better prices — usually around 30 to 70 percent better — at in-network providers.”
“Discount plans are the right product at the right time,” Chuck Misasi, senior vice president, sales and marketing, for Careington, told Benefitspro.
“When Medicare Part B started with a discount pharmacy card, the Aetnas and Cignas jumped in after seeing the writing on the wall. Discount plans offer high value and high utility, and members can use them as often as they want.”
Benefitspro notes that the quality and service bar is being raised on savings and discount plans. The “industry has gone from one that was virtually unregulated to one that is heavily regulated …the benefit is that the industry is more mature and settled, and its programs are more widely accepted.”
One of the driving forces behind the acceptance of healthcare savings bundles, dental savings plans and other discount plans has been the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare.”) The ACA has raised people’s awareness of both the benefits and shortcomings of traditional health insurance.
Careington’s Misasi explained “With many employers opting for high-deductible plans and spending more on premiums, there may not be a lot of employer money left to fund other benefits. They are looking for value and price transparency.”
Discount plans can offer both.
“Consumers get a price list of what the plan will pay for by procedure,” he says. “Because they are a fraction of what an insured plan would cost, employers may come out way ahead with our plans. There is a tremendous amount of value and transparency.”
The low-cost, high-value calculus of discount plans makes them attractive to employers, who can offer them as paid or voluntary benefits.
Benefitspro also addressed a misconception about dental and health savings plans – people think they can get discounts by paying their health provider in cash. While many providers may offer discounts to their uninsured patients, benefitspro.com notes that “discounts with a plan will far exceed what anyone can get on their own.”
Save on Your Next Trip to the Dentist
Working adults are visiting the dentist at the lowest rate since 1996, when the American Dental Association began tracking dental care utilization. An excellent article on TheStreet.com provides help for those whose budget can’t always stretch to afford dental care.
Suggestions include visiting an accredited dental school, where students perform cleanings and procedures with supervision, and quality control is taken very seriously. Dental school care can cut your bill by 50%.
TheStreet also recommended dental savings plans, because the plans “are simpler than insurance plans, with straightforward pricing and less paperwork. For less than $10 a month, patients gain access to a network of dentists who offer discounts of 20% to 60% on a variety of dental services. “
Consumers could ask their dentist for discounts without joining a dental savings plan, but many patients shy away from haggling. “Some dentists will give discounts for low income patients or senior citizens, but a lot of dentists won’t, and a lot of people don’t fit into the category the dentist is willing to discount,” Allen Erenbaum, president of the Consumer Health Alliance, told TheStreet. “The dental savings programs make it extremely easy because the dentist has already agreed to provide the discount, and the consumer gets it by showing their card.”
While dental insurance plans often have a maximum benefit amount, dental savings plans are unlimited. “The more extensive your services are the more expensive they tend to be and the more you’ll save,” adds Erenbaum. “Anybody who would otherwise pay out of pocket for dental care is going to save money with a dental savings plan.” Call us at 1-800-238-5163 to find out about how dental savings plans can help make quality dental care affordable.