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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

Content is the opinion of the author and does not represent the position of any other person or entity. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.

The author is paid for product endorsements and has an ownership or other financial interest in the businesses related to the topics covered.

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Rules for PPO discount plans

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If in doubt, please send a new question or ask for an update.

Q: How can I make sure that a health plan is really insurance and not a PPO discount plan?

A: All reputable PPO discount plans clearly state that they are not insurance in their advertising and on the ID card itself. Some states have laws that regulate such disclosures and prevent PPO discount plans from using certain terms in their marketing materials. Terms of Service are posted at . Unfortunately, scams that portray PPO discount plans to be health insurance are not likely to abide by the law. The easiest way to avoid problems is to use a reputable independent enrollment service like


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