Worthless Health Insurance

Unsuspecting customers get their medical care, thinking their low cost insurance will cover the cost, but are left with massive medical bills.

Local health care officials say plenty of small business owners and even hard working employees have been tricked into buying cut-rate health insurance that ends up costing patients big in the end.

Anyone with health care coverage has felt the rising cost of insurance in their pocketbooks during the past few years. Insurance experts say that's forced many to look for the cheapest option, which sometimes ends up being a bad deal.

"Unfortunately right now, with the cost, everybody so needy for health insurance right now and there are educated people that are buying this stuff. The problem is you don't find out its worthless until claim time, and it too late then,” says Ronnie Blanton, an insurance agent.

That leaves patients with hundreds, even thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills, even though they paid for coverage.

"It puts the hospital in a difficult situation because we come across as the bad guy in the picture. We provided the service to the community, insurance didn't pay for whatever reason, so now the patient is responsible," says Jeff Sherman, SGMC office manager.

With a total of more than $250 million in unpaid medical claims.

As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

"You don't want to buy a policy that you have to go out of town in order to receive services, you want to be careful about network access," Sherman says.

Experts say there are ways to protect yourself, like asking the insurance salesperson for references and doing your own research with your state's insurance commissioner.

The experts said you should avoid cheap plans, but what about higher end health packages? Those insurance plans offer more protection, but you could end up paying big money for cancer coverage, and end up with a heart problem that's not covered, meaning the extra coverage wasn't worth the cost.