Health insurance is always a hot topic for individuals, businesses and politicians alike. Without proper health insurance, getting medical treatments and drugs to treat your health care issues can be expensive and difficult; choosing the right health insurance provider can be even tougher. Below we’ll explain the three main types of health insurance coverage types that you’ve probably heard a bit about, to try to take the mystery out of them and make getting insurance coverage that much easier.
Health Maintenance Organizations or “HMOs” are the most well-known type of group health insurance or managed care available today. When you join an HMO, you are signing up to have your health care provided by a group of doctors, specialists and other providers inside of the HMO’s network. You choose a primary care doctor, and this doctor coordinates the rest of your care inside the network, referring you to specialists or other providers as is necessary. While HMOs provide some of the best pricing available, some people find them a bit too restrictive and opt for a provider with more flexibility.
Preferred Provider Organizations or “PPOs” offer the cost savings of having a network of approved providers with the flexibility to choose out-of-network care if you so choose. The upside to this is that you can go ahead and seek a second opinion, use the preferred doctor or see a specialist without a referral from your primary care doctor. The downside to PPOs is that taking advantage of these options is generally a costly affair, and the deductible and copayment amounts of using out-of-network care can add up very fast. Many PPOs also have co-insurance fees that need to be paid after deductibles are exceeded.
Point of Service or “POS” providers offer somewhat of a blend of the HMO and PPO offering. Like an HMO, when you sign up with a POS you will have to pick a primary care doctor that will centralize your care. However, like a PPO you can choose to go outside of your network for care and still receive insurance coverage. The deductibles and copayment amounts will usually be a bit lower than using a PPO, but they will still add up. Typically users would select this option if they have a single out-of-network health care provider that they are unwilling to give up, but want to be able to get everything else covered at the low cost that being in-network provides.
Travel health insurance doesn’t really fit with any of the above options but deserves mentioning. Any time one leaves the country for any reason, it’s absolutely critical that they invest in travel health insurance coverage. It only takes getting slightly ill or a seemingly harmless insect bite to end up in a foreign hospital, and without adequate insurance coverage one can end up paying steep financial costs. Even if you have HMO, PPO or POS insurance, check with them before you get on the plane to ensure you are covered.
While this may seem like a no brainer, it’s worth being said: shop around. There are so many different providers and plans available that finding a health insurance provider that exactly fits your health needs and budget is entirely possible. Once you’ve found a short list of providers that look like a good match, compare them against one another and see if there are any ways you can leverage available discounts. If you have a current doctor, you can also ask which health insurance providers they prefer to work with and see if any of them are available to you.
It’s true – making decisions about something as critical as health insurance can be a bit of a pain, but it’s important and can have long-lasting effects on the health treatment that you and your family members receive. Taking the time to carefully consider the range of different types of health insurance available to you and to determine which will be the most effective can really pay off in the long run. Remember: just because it’s the cheapest doesn’t mean that it’s the best! Sometimes you’ll have a higher up-front cost for your health insurance but your deductible or copayments may end up lower, which will save you money over the long term. Choose wisely and you’ll have the health insurance that you need to feel safe.
Did you know that Self Health Insurance can help you navigate through all of the different local health insurance providers in your area? Our tools can help you decide which insurance company and which type of health insurance will be perfect for you and your family.
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