Major Medical Plans

Major medical plans are a special type of fee-for-service plan. They are designed to provide protection against long-term chronic or catastrophic illness or injury. These plans cover a broad area of health care services and are designed to protect against large medical expenses only. Typically included in a major medical plan are:

Advantages of major medical plans. Despite the high deductible, the coinsurance requirement, and the ceiling on the amount of benefits, major medical plans have several advantages over basic benefit plans:

Types of major medical. There are two types of major medical plans: comprehensive plans that coinsure all covered medical expenses exceeding the deductible and supplementary plans that coinsure expenses in excess of the deductible and expenses in excess of those covered by another plan. Both supplementary plans and comprehensive plans place ceilings on the amount of benefits payable for each insured person.

Comprehensive plans. Comprehensive major medical plans provide coverage for the same types of services covered many other plans. Comprehensive plans also include deductibles and copayment requirements but may provide first-dollar coverage (full coverage with no deductible) for emergency accident benefits or waive out-of-pocket expenses for certain benefits.

Supplemental plans. These plans act as a supplement to another health insurance plan. Supplemental major medical plans cover most medically necessary services excluded under basic insurance plans, as well as charges that exceed the primary plan's limits. Covered services typically include inpatient and outpatient hospital care, special nursing care, outpatient prescription drugs, medical appliances, durable medical equipment, and outpatient psychiatric care. Supplemental major medical plans set deductibles, require copayments, and often limit total benefits.

Who will like major medical plans? Major medical plans may be popular with low-wage earners if they are healthy because the cost is lower than some other, more comprehensive plans. In fact, the premiums are usually lower than they would be with an HMO. Low-wage earners with health problems will not like them because of the deductibles involved.