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About 1,500 doctors across the country are in a group called SimpleCare, which steers patients to doctors who offer cash discounts, SimpleCare says on its Web site.

The No Insurance Club, which is headquartered in Arizona with participating physicians in 13 states, offers prepaid health care plans for an annual fee of $480 for singles and $680 for families. The service says that it covers basic medical services that include a variety of tests, shots and physicals and nearly 20 office visits per year.

But is it really that easy? What happens if you use up your $480 of health care expenditures? And will that money take you to a hospital if something really bad happens? It’s not clear, and in fact the signs may not be all that good, if you look at this InsureBlog opinion on the topic.

Mini-med plans, offering limited benefits, are controversial because they promise a form of safety that they may not be able tot deliver.

We looked up the New York providers under SimpleCare, and there aren’t that many (see above).

These two in Rochester seemed to be it.

In New Jersey, there were none. There were also none in Arizona or Iowa.

While it’s interesting to see that there are people in the marketplace responding to the current situation (health insurance is expensive, believe me!) it’s another opportunity for us to say:

Be careful. Read the fine print. Shop for your health-care providers and your health-insurance providers carefully. Bad things can happen out there, and it’s up to you to protect yourself.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...