Medical Discount Card Program Launched for Alameda, Contra Costa Residents
Beginning April 12, Contra Costa and Alameda county residents can pay a monthly fee to receive discounted prices on outpatient care from a network of doctors, surgery centers and diagnostic imaging centers, the Contra Costa Times reports. Under the program, called AccessMedicalCard, members can receive a 40% discount on the retail value of physician visits and a 40% to 90% discount on diagnostic imaging procedures, according to the company's Web site. Members must pay any doctors' fees at the time they receive care. The program will not offer discounts on preventive care services or prescription drugs. It also "does nothing to lower hospitals' hefty costs for care," according to the Times. Members pay a monthly fee of $19.95 for individuals and $49.95 for families and an enrollment fee of $49. The enrollment fee will increase to $70 in August. Neal Gillbert, president and founder of AccessMedicalCard, compared health care services to car repair, saying, "The theory is that people will generally do the necessary [automotive] repairs because they must have a car to get to work. If we can bring the cost of restoring your health to the cost of restoring your car, we will have done a great service." Donald Waters, assistant executive director of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association, emphasized the importance of understanding the program's limitations, such as treating major illnesses, but said the program was "innovative," and a "good way to supplement minimal health insurance coverage." He added, "as long as everyone understands what they're getting," the Times reports. If the program is successful, the company plans to expand membership throughout the Bay Area (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 4/7).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.