With the high cost of health insurance, many people have been tempted to buy into a medical discount card program. For a monthly fee the cards give you access to discounted rates that the card company negotiates with health care providers. However, the cards are not insurance and will not protect you against expensive medical costs. You also only receive the discount if you pay the bill in full at the time of service.

Instead of contracting with these companies, Utah Valley Pediatrics offers self-pay cash adjustments of 20% for uninsured patients who pay in full at the time of service, which means you get the same benefits without having to pay the card company’s premium.

If you are still tempted to sign up for a medical discount card, please also consider that:

• The discount cards are not a protection against catastrophic medical costs. For example, if you are hospitalized and receive a bill for $10,000, you still have to pay $8,000. You will also have to pay the entire $8,000 at the time of service in order to get the discount.

• It can be very hard to find participating providers.

• Many of the discount card companies have been known to use misleading or fraudulent information when marketing their cards. Be especially wary of companies that only give you a few days to decide and make promises that seem too good to be true.

If you are still interested in buying a medical discount card, be sure to research the company through the Utah Insurance Department. The website also provides information for those who have bought a fraudulent medical discount card.

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