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Medical Discount Clubs

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Dear Dr. Levister: I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions but I am committed to paring my healthcare costs. Where should I start? M.E.

Dear M.E. There are many ways you can cut your health care costs, including comparison shopping for medical procedures and joining medical discount clubs.

For a monthly fee ranging from $12 to $30 per person, club members can have access to doctors, dentists and more affordable drugs, among other benefits.

The clubs can be tremendously helpful for those people who don't have health insurance, or who lack dental, vision or chiropractic coverage.

Depending on the medical procedure required, members may have to pay cash at the time of their appointment. This isn't health insurance, therefore members don't have to worry about ever being denied coverage, and the savings can be significant. Many of these plans can be used when individuals have maxed out their insurance coverage for the year, resulting in reduced out-ofpocket expenses.

For example, with AmeriPlan USA, members can save up to 65 percent of the cost of fillings, crowns and other dental work, and up to 80 percent on preventative medical care.

Another club, Careington, offers up to 80 percent off of lab costs and 45 percent off of doctor's visits. Check to make sure the club cover covers your area before you sign up.

Don't Forget Union, Organizational Discounts. These are perks that many people forget about. For example, the AARP has a vision discount plan that saves members 30 percent on eyeglasses and 30 percent on contact lenses at select retailers. Some unions, including the AFL-CIO, have built into their memberships discounts for prescription drugs, vision and dental needs.

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