Healthcare plans are plans devised to assist in covering the costs associated with obtaining healthcare services. In the broadest sense, a healthcare plan may be a health insurance policy that is issued under a group plan or an individual plan. Another example of a healthcare plan is a discount package that is not classified as insurance coverage, but does provide members of the plan with significant discounts when members choose to use physicians and other healthcare providers who are associated with the plan.
Far and away, insurance is the most popular example of healthcare plans. Devised to help manage the costs associated with doctor visits and medical treatments that are carried out in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, health insurance policies help to minimize the out of pocket expense experienced by the insured for any covered medical issue or treatment. Generally, an insurance plan calls for the payment of an insurance premium according to a payment schedule.
In turn, the insured pays only a percentage of the total cost of medical treatments received, usually involving the payment of a deductible and any remaining percentage that is not covered under the terms of the insurance package. Employers sometimes offer group insurance coverage at little to no expense to the employee. It is also possible in many locations for the self-employed and other individuals to purchase personal health policies.
Generally, it is necessary for an applicant to meet criteria established by the insurance company before being accepted into an insurance program. This means that healthcare plans structured as insurance may or may not be available to all people. In addition, the existence of a current or past health issue may disqualify the individual from participation, or at least limit the amount of the coverage in some manner.
Alternative healthcare plans have gained attention in recent decades. Health plans of this type are not classified as insurance and do not function in the same manner as an insurance policy. An alternative healthcare plan usually offers a discount on various medical procedures and health maintenance tasks, such as annual checkups. In order to claim the highest discounted rates available under the plan, it is necessary to use physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities that have agreed to honor the discounts offered by the plan.
While alternative healthcare plans work on the basis of ensuring a discounted rate for services provided by participating physicians and other healthcare professionals, the strategy is generally considered to not be as desirable as health insurance. However, people who are not eligible for health insurance often find that discount healthcare plans provide at least partial relief from the high costs of medical care today. Most plans of this type do not require a physical examination before enrollment and do not exempt pre-existing conditions from consideration.