Health Insurance Options

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Health Insurance Options

Comprehending Health Insurance Options

How much health insurance do I need, and where do I get it? Shopping for affordable health insurance no doubt raises many questions, but it starts with these two. To the first question the answer is really quite simple: you need as much health insurance as you can reasonably afford. The second is a little more complex because despite all the gloom and doom talk consumers actually have far more choice when it comes to obtaining low-cost heath insurance than they ever did before.

As in any endeavor, knowledge is power; the best way to arm yourself is to educate yourself. Become informed about the various different types of health insurance products available to you. Then you can make and informed decision. While there have been many changes especially in recent years in health insurance products there are still basically three types of health insurance:

A Fee for Service plan is the most “traditional” form of health insurance, affording the most freedom. You choose the practitioner you want to see and your insurance company pays all or part of the bill. Fee for Service plans are the staple of well-known insurance providers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Fee for Service Plans tend to be the most expensive type of health insurance. Fee for service health insurance plans can be offered through an employer or they are available for purchase as individual private health plans.

HMO’s require you to pay a flat monthly fee. There are usually no deductibles with an HMO. HMO health plans are significantly cheaper health insurance plans than Fee-for-Service Plans. You must see participating practitioners in an HMO, or pay yourself for services of health providers outside of the healthcare insurance plan. HMO’s have kind of gotten a bad rap, primarily there is the fear of limited choice. But for many especially those who have had no insurance an HMO is a great deal for affordable lower cost heath insurance. Lack of choice is really a myth with HMO’s. Most well run HMO’s have many doctors within the practice to choose from. HMO’s also encourage preventive medicine and wellness visits.

A Preferred Provider Organization is sort of the “next generation” HMO. Unlike an HMO, which is usually made up of a group of doctors practicing under one roof, a PPO is a network of participating practitioners to which you can go for services. You also have the additional flexibility of seeing a doctor outside of the network, but you will have to pay more for those visits.  PPO’s like HMO’s can usually eliminate deductibles and co-pays and therefore represent an affordable health insurance option for many.

HMO’s and PPO’s are traditionally the less expensive health insurance options. Another route many are choosing to go today is to elect a Fee-for Service Plan with a very high deductible, which keeps premiums low, and couple that with a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for out of pocket medical expenses with pre-tax dollars.