PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) health insurance possibilities
In case you are looking for a comprehensive type of health coverage with much room for flexibility that still has a reasonable price-tag, a PPO insurance plan may be just the thing you need to cover your health needs.
Preferred Provider Organizations (also known as PPO plans) represent a network of medical workers, facilities and other professionals that are contracted by the insurance company in order to get more competitive fees for their customers. So those who are getting their medical services within the specified network will be charged with lower rates than if looking for them outside. However, you can still receive medical coverage outside the network too, only that your rates will be higher compared to what you get within the network.
PPOs can be regarded as a mix of traditional indemnity health plans and later-developed managed care options. In what concerns the network organization of medical services, PPOs are quite similar to HMO insurance plans. However, when you get a PPO plan, you aren't required to choose a primary care provider (PCP). It's the main difference between these two quite similar health insurance plan types. And since there aren't any PCPs in PPO plans, you aren't required to provide a referral when addressing any given specialist within the network. And when you receive your medical care in a facility or with a specialist outside the specified network your copayments will be considerably higher, but you still will receive partial coverage.
The advantages of PPO plans:
- PPO plans help keeping out of pocket costs within certain annual limits.
- PPO plans let you consult with any medical service provider even if he or she doesn't make part of your network.
- PPO plans offer substantial money saving potential when receiving healthcare services within the specified network of doctors and facilities.
The disadvantages of PPO plans:
- PPO plans require you to pay the deductible before receiving any coverage.
- PPO plans make services you get outside the specified network a lot more expensive.
- PPO plans have higher copayment rates if compared to other managed plan types.
Flexibility has its price
As my may guess, when a plan provides more flexibility and options it will usually cost more than a cheap health insurance plan with greater restrictions. That's why PPOs are generally more expensive than HMOs.
Even in case you choose a lower amount of coverage with your PPO plan, there are additional fees and payments that will make your plan more expensive. So don't base your estimations on the amount of coverage alone.
For instance, besides the usual premiums you have to pay every month, there are also additional coinsurance fees, except for the cases when you use a preventive healthcare service. There is also a deductible to be paid before you can receive any benefits from your PPO plan.
How to get a good plan?
Sometimes it may be quite hard to get a good PPO plan that would provide increased flexibility for a reasonable price. If you feel that a PPO plan is just the thing you need to cover your medical costs, you first would want to get health insurance quotes from numerous providers or talk to your insurance agent about the options you have. Shopping around doesn't take much time but as a result you can expect substantial savings if you manage to select the right provider.