Medical expenses can quickly add up, and even relatively minor health issues can cost thousands of dollars in doctor’s visits and prescriptions. If you don’t have health insurance, these costs become your responsibility entirely.
Although having adequate health insurance is the best option, premiums, deductibles, and other costs can make policies difficult to afford.
The founders of Sidecar Health recognized these issues and created their unique approach to health insurance. Sidecar Health provides Access Plans that offer fixed benefits for healthcare services that may be particularly attractive if you’re self-employed, waiting for other healthcare plans to kick in after losing insurance, or want additional coverage.
Here’s everything you need to know about Sidecar Health and how its plans work.
Sidecar Health is not your standard health insurance company, but it could save you 40 percent on healthcare costs. It offers three low-cost fixed indemnity Access Plans that pay set amounts for various healthcare services.
They’re a great choice for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other self-employed people. Although these plans are not Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant, the company offers one ACA plan that’s currently only available in Ohio.
Coverage options range from $10,000 up to $2 million. You can also customize the deductible and other factors, like prescription coverage, which affect your monthly premium.
Sidecar provides easy-to-understand plan options, and many of the healthcare professionals offer discounts if you pay cash at the time of service. With all plans, you can shop around for the most cost-effective services by using the cost transparency tool on the phone app. It highlights how much the policy pays and allows you to calculate your expected costs.
Plus, it’s real-time pricing, so there are no unpleasant surprises when it comes time to settle your bill.
Sidecar Health is great for people looking to make routine medical care more affordable.
Perhaps you’ve been considering going without health insurance, but you’d really prefer a safety net. It’s particularly suitable for young and healthy people who are less likely to need significant health care or already have a catastrophic health insurance plan and hope to make day-to-day medical expenses more affordable.
Likewise, it’s a good choice if you need short-term coverage.
However, you might not be eligible for coverage if you’re a senior or have pre-existing medical conditions. Also, if you qualify for discounted insurance through the government’s health insurance marketplace, you may find better deals there.
- Cost: average monthly premium is $200, but you can customize your coverage
This alternative to traditional insurance allows you to join or leave at any time. You can choose from Budget, Standard, and Premium fixed insurance plans and customize them with coverage amounts, deductibles, and prescription drug coverage.
If you opt for a low annual coverage amount with a high deductible, your monthly premiums are low, which is great for people who rarely need to go to the doctor.
These plans pay a fixed benefit amount for medical services regardless of the actual cost of the care, meaning you can keep the difference or pay extra if the cost is higher.
There’s no network, so you can choose the professional you prefer using the smartphone app. You’ll then pay with your Sidecar Health Visa payment card.
Although it’s difficult to find Sidecar’s ACA Plan prices, the website states it’s Ohio’s lowest priced option. However, only Ohio residents can benefit from this option.
As with the Access Plans, you’ll benefit from the freedom to see any healthcare professional without network constraints and access to transparent pricing through the smartphone app or website. In addition, as with all ACA plans, this plan covers pre-existing conditions and offers essential health benefits and preventative care.
Although the plan is ACA compliant, you won’t find it on the Marketplace and must purchase coverage through the Sidecar Health website.
Sidecar Health also offers employer plans that allow covered employees to see any healthcare professional. The plans offer the same Sidecar promise of transparency, choice, and control and have a dedicated member care team a phone call or message away.
Sidecar is a fixed indemnity plan, which means they pay a fixed amount for each healthcare service, and you must pay the remaining balance.
Unlike traditional insurance plans, the policies are exempt from most federal health insurance regulations. Therefore, the company can decline you if you have pre-existing conditions or a high risk profile, and they don’t insure people over age 65.
People may consider fixed indemnity plans like Sidecar as supplemental health insurance that helps manage out-of-pocket costs. They also provide an extra layer of protection in the case of serious injury or illness.
However, unlike many traditional insurance plans, they are far from comprehensive and do not cover the essential health benefits.
Sidecar Health is currently available in the following 16 states:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
You can sign up for an Access Plan at any time by completing the straightforward online application and selecting your coverage level according to your needs. Coverage begins within 14 days.
When you need to visit a healthcare professional, simply use the website platform or smartphone app to determine the benefit amount your plan pays for the service. You can then compare prices between professionals and find the lowest price in your area without considering networks.
If the price is lower than your plan’s fixed benefit amount, you keep the difference, but you may need to top up the amount if the professional’s cost is higher.
You’ll then make an appointment with your chosen professional and pay with your Sidecar Health Visa payment card when you receive care. Because you’re essentially paying in cash, the healthcare professional may also offer further discounts.
You’ll then need to submit your claim by uploading the bill and checking the claim status on the smartphone app.
Overall, customers are happy with Sidecar Health, and it has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). That said, it also has an average customer rating of 1 out of 5 stars most likely due to four billing-related complaints filed with BBB in the past 12 months. However, Sidecar has resolved all of them.
On Trustpilot, Sidecar has a 4.5 out of 5-star average rating, with 87 percent of reviewers rating it as excellent. People say they save money on premiums and healthcare costs and are impressed at the clear and direct pricing. Many reviewers say they would be happy to recommend the service.
- Enter your zip code to find out if Sidecar Health offers coverage in your state
- If they do, you’ll fill out a questionnaire. Once you submit your details, you’ll find out if Sidecar Health is suitable for your needs.
- If it is, you can complete the sign-up process. This involves deciding on the annual coverage amount, deductible, and whether you want prescription coverage.
- Once you’re approved, you’ll receive your Sidecar Health Visa payment card in the mail. Note that you don’t have to use the card as a payment method — if you prefer to use a different payment option, you can take a photo of your itemized medical bill and upload it using the Sidecar Health app or website to receive eligible benefits.
Is Sidecar a legit company?
Yes, Sidecar Health is a legit company. The website provides a business address and phone number, and you can find terms and conditions, privacy policies, HIPAA notice, and more in the footer.
Does Sidecar cover pregnancy costs?
The Access Plan does not cover maternity or newborn coverage unless you require care due to pregnancy complications.
However, Sidecar provides an optional Maternity Care Rider in some states. In this case, maternity coverage begins 3 months after payment of the first premium, providing the conception date is within the insurance period.
Which is better, Sidecar or Oscar?
It’s challenging to say whether Sidecar or Oscar, another health insurance company, is best. It depends on your circumstances.
Sidecar offers no commitment health insurance that’s flexible and affordable, and the company markets to self-employed or unemployed individuals looking for low-cost healthcare solutions.
On the flip side, Oscar provides various ACA-compliant plans where you receive health services through hospital and provider networks. You’ll benefit from telehealth, pregnancy, and family benefits, and the unique daily step benefit that pays you up to $100 a year for meeting your walking goals. (You’ll have to download the app and sync it with Apple Health, Google Fit, or another fitness tracker app, and you’ll earn $1 a day.)
However, some people report that their premiums are more expensive than average with Oscar.
Additionally, neither Sidecar nor Oscar is available in all states (Oscar is available in 22 states), so your choices may be limited to your location. If you’re considering either company, you should do your homework to see the best option for you.
Sidecar Health’s core values are affordability, personalization, transparency, and simplicity. The service’s plans offer alternatives to traditional insurance and may be attractive to self-employed or unemployed individuals unhappy with unaffordable premiums and high out-of-pocket costs.
You’re free to choose your healthcare professional and shop around for the lowest costs for healthcare services in your location using the dedicated app. You can then pay for healthcare services with your Sidecar Health Visa card, though it’s not mandatory to do so.
Sidecar Health is an affordable way to lower your day-to-day medical expenses and is best suited to individuals with no pre-existing health conditions. However, coverage isn’t comprehensive, and it’s not an alternative to traditional health insurance.
Zia Sherrell is a health copywriter and digital health journalist with over a decade of experience covering diverse topics from public health to medical cannabis, nutrition, and biomedical science. Her mission is to empower and educate people by bringing health matters to life with engaging, evidence-based writing.