understanding your medical insurance policy

The Different Types Of Health Insurance Plans

by Peppi Halko

Are you shopping around for a health insurance plan, but feeling a bit confused by all your options? If so, it will help to know the key things to consider so that you make the right choice.  


The first big decision you'll need to make is if you want an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) or PPO (Preferred-Provider Organization) plan.

An HMO plan requires that you have a primary care physician that handles your referrals and recommendations for specialists. The premiums tend to be a lot lower with HMOs, but that's because you need to start with your primary care physician to do anything

A PPO plan allows you to see any specialist without a referral. There are networks in-network and out-of-network, giving you the choice of who you want to see. Of course, this benefit comes with a higher premium when compared to an HMO plan, and can require you to pay a deductible before the insurance provides full or partial coverage.


You also have the option of an FSA (Flexible Spending Account). They work by allowing you to contribute money to a special account before any taxes are taken from them. However, you must decide at the beginning of the enrollment period how much money you want to contribute to this account. This is a situation where you use the money or you lose it though. It can be difficult to estimate a full year's worth of health care needs, but it can be worth it for people that have predictable and frequent appointments.


A High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is known for having low premiums and high deductibles. It can be used in combination with a health savings account (HSA) to pay for all of your medical expenses that qualify. You can typically see in-network specialists without having a referral, with there often being a bigger network to pick from. This plan can be great for someone that is generally healthy and doesn't visit the doctor that often, and you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars if you do not have medical issues during the year. 


A health savings account allows you to contribute money to an account with pre-tax dollars. It is different from an FSA because you do not lose the money you don't use. It can only be used in conjunction with an HDHP, and there are limits to how much you can contribute to the account per year. However, you can invest that money so that it grows in your HSA. 

Contact a local medical insurance company to learn more about health insurance plans