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WA Commissioner Warns of Cheap Health "Insurance" That's Not Insurance

Officials from the Washington State Insurance Commissioner's office say consumers in the state need to be wary of discount health plans and fixed-payment plans that...
May 12, 2009

Officials from the Washington State Insurance Commissioner's office say consumers in the state need to be wary of discount health plans and fixed-payment plans that market themselves like full insurance. Customers desperate for coverage are signing up for plans with limited benefits, thinking they have full coverage. "The consumer has a certain responsibility to be a smart shopper, but people are desperate," said spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis.

In recent years, the Insurance Commissioner's office has seen a rise in complaints about discount plans, which charge a fee for access to a list of providers who provide health services or products at a discount, said Marquis. She said such plans are not insurance, but that they use misleading insurance-like words, such as "deductible" and "co-pay." "The problem is that people think they're buying insurance," she said.

To combat that problem, Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) signed a bill last month that requires discount-plan sellers to file statements with the Insurance Commissioner's office, and to clearly tell consumers that the plans are not insurance.

Cheap Health "Insurance" Can be Costly (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 5609)

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