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Health Alert | Limited Benefit Insurance: It’s Becoming Respectable

by John Goodman

Dr. John Goodman is president and founder of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

I have become increasingly intrigued by limited benefit insurance (covering primary care, but not hospitalization), even though it does the opposite of what most health policy wonks think insurance should do. See my previous posts here, here and here.

Blue Cross now offers a discount card to Florida residents. Its Web site lists likely savings on procedures. Blue Cross also has a limited benefit insurance plan, as does Aetna - which primarily markets it to employers with part-time and seasonal workers.

Pro Medical Plan, another insurer, charges $52 per month (individuals) and $130 (families). In return, people get “primary-care doctor visits for $10 and cheap basic lab tests at a variety of locations in Miami-Dade and Broward, plus a discount card for such things as specialists, pharmacy and vision.” [link]

What I like is that these products solve two big problems that are not solved, say, by Medicaid or SCHIP: (1) They offer access to primary care other than at public health clinics and emergency rooms and (2) they introduce price competition (and, therefore inevitably quality competition) into the primary care marketplace.

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