Office Of Insurance Regulation To Hold A Public Forum On Discount Medical Plans
Tallahassee (August 22, 2006) – The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) announced today it will hold a public forum on Discount Medical Plans (DMP) at the Conrad Miami Hotel on August 25th. The forum is being held to solicit input from stakeholders and the public to assess whether the regulation of Discount Medical Plans is meeting its objective of providing a healthy Discount Medical Plan market while also protecting consumers. Findings from the forum will be incorporated into a comprehensive study of the DMP market commissioned by the Office in collaboration with Georgetown University.
Discount Medical Plans are not insurance plans. Instead they allow members to receive a discounted fee from a participating doctor, hospital, or other provider. In return for the negotiated discount, the member must pay a monthly fee and usually a one time enrollment or administrative charge. The member is responsible for paying the provider's fee, usually at the time of service.
"Discount Medical Plans have become prevalent across the country and are being heavily advertised," said Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. "Florida has and will continue to take a lead role in making sure that consumers do not confuse these plans with insurance and that our state standards are followed."
With the growth of Discount Medical Plans there have also been nationwide fraud and abuse problems reported by consumers and found by regulators. In Florida nearly 2,000 consumer complaints were received by Department of Financial Services, Consumer Services Unit in 2003 and 2004. In response, the Florida Legislature passed a law, which established standards for companies operating such programs and created consumer protections for Floridians considering purchasing the plans. Since implementation of the new regulations, on January 1, 2005, the complaints have declined by over 90%.
The hearing will take place on August 25, 2006, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It will be held at the Conrad Miami Hotel located at 1395 Brickell Avenue in Miami. It will be an open meeting and the public is welcome.
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