The Regulation of Discount Health Plans in California

Over the past decade some companies began offering products known as “Discount Health Plans” that are NOT true health insurance (even though they are frequently marketed as such), but are plans that consumers pay a monthly premium for in order to receive “discounts” for some services with certain providers. • In February 2008 the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) released draft regulations governing business practices and consumer protections for Discount Health Plans. DMHC drafted the regulations jointly with industry representatives but without input from consumers or advocates. Health Access opposed the regulations as drafted because they would not provide any real protections for consumers. • In March 2008 DMHC held discussions with Health Access and Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP) regarding revisions to the regulations. • In November 2008 DMHC released revised regulations on discount health plans incorporating some, but not all, of the consumer advocate recommendations. • In December 2008 Health Access commented on the revised regulations and pushed for strengthened consumer safeguards and oversight.