Cheap health insurance choices

 

There are a few basic choices you should be aware of when shopping for cheap health insurance. Understanding how health insurance companies operate can help you to decide which kind of plan will work best for your coverage needs.

HMO or PPO?

Health insurance providers break into two main types: a health maintenance organization (HMO), which is a more tightly run organization, or a preferred provider organization (PPO), which has less specific limitations. The basics are the same for both, in that there will be a monthly premium and a deductible amount for each type of coverage. Both can offer very cheap health insurance options. The difference comes in where the health care procedures are actually handled.

HMO Overview

An HMO is generally regarded as the lower costing of the two types of insurance systems. In an HMO, you will be assigned a primary care physician. Some HMOs allow you to choose your own primary care provider from a list of approved physicians. Since the list is sometimes quite limited, this can sometimes result in longer wait times when making appointments. To have the services of a specialist covered, you will need a written referral from your primary physician. Not obtaining this referral first can result in a denial of charges. Many patients feel the health care costs are more predictable and often more manageable as well under an HMO system. Oftentimes, health care is covered 100 percent with an HMO.

PPO Overview

PPO plans most often will not require a primary physician, even for seeing specialists, although some of them may. Usually you can go to any doctor you want to, although you will pay much less if going to a health care provider within the coverage network as compared to one who is not within the network. Providers within the network are often covered completely by your insurance, after the deductible has been met. Providers outside of the network may be covered at a lower percent, or sometimes not at all. Often a co-payment is required for each doctor visit; this is the amount you pay up front for services. It may or may not count toward your deductible; this varies among providers.

Which is best?

If keeping your current doctor is important to you, you may prefer a PPO, which offers more freedom of choice. If you're not picky about your physician, and are more interested in keeping health care costs low, you may do better by choosing an HMO instead. Each plan has its pros and cons. However, both HMO and PPO plans offer cheap health insurance options, so be sure to compare specifics according to the needs of you and your family before deciding.

 
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