Department of Managed Health Care Investigating Some Discount Card Companies
More than 150 people have filed complaints with state regulators about health discount cards that did not deliver promised savings, and state Department of Managed Health Care Director Cindy Ehnes said there are probably far more who have not contacted officials, the Sacramento Bee reports.
According to DMHC officials, an increasing number of primarily low-income and minority residents have "been lured by deceptive marketing and advertising" to buy health discount cards that offer little or no savings and require monthly premiums, the Bee reports.
The officials added that even legitimate cards might require patients to pay a monthly fee to qualify for discounts, some of which they might have received without the discount card because some doctors and hospitals give discounts to low-income uninsured patients.
Ehnes said DMHC has oversight of any company that collects regular fees from patients to refer them to a designated list of medical providers. DMHC first targeted two fraudulent discount card companies six months ago. Ehnes said more than 100 companies are currently under investigation.
Ehnes said, "These advertisements are now all over the Internet and late-night television targeting poor people who are desperate to get insurance for their families." She added, "If they are not selling a legitimate insurance policy or offering patients any legitimate savings, they are not going to be tolerated in California" (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 3/4).
The Oakland Tribune on Sunday also examined medical discount card companies and DMHC investigations of such firms (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 3/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.