The topic of health insurance has been at the forefront of the national consciousness ever since Congress took up health-care reform back in 2009. Today it seems that there are more choices available to most Americans, yet few of us are aware of all our choices. Therefore, it would make sense that the more we understand about how the health insurance system works, the better equipped we’ll be to make appropriate decisions.
If you’re ready to start looking for health insurance rates online enter your zip code in the box below.
The WebMD website speaks extensively about health insurance and how it works. In their discussion on how to choose the right health care plan, they make the point that the quality of healthcare and insurance is the most important factor people consider when searching for a plan. Yet very few people understand their options well enough to know they’re making the right decision for themselves and their families.
Can I use online insurance search engines?
Online health insurance sites, like the one you’re on right now, often provide search engine tools, which will help you, get started in finding the right health insurance for you. These excellent tools should be used as a matter of getting started. However, before you enter your ZIP code and start looking at results, it’s important that you understand the different types of policies available.
You’re going to receive multiple quotes from your search, but if you don’t know what types of health care coverage you’re looking at, it’s impossible to compare plans accurately. If you’ve heard the phrase, “comparing apples with apples,” that’s exactly what we’re talking about here.
When your search returns results, you need to compare HMOs with other HMOs, PPOs with other PPOs, and major medical policies with other major medical policies. If you compare two types of coverage that are not in the same category you have no real basis for determining which is best for you.
Perhaps before you even begin to search for quotes you should decide what type of plan you’re after. You might also look at the glossary of terms provided by the National Association of Health Underwriters as well.
What are the different types of plans available?
There are four basic types of healthcare plans under which most insurance companies fall. The first is the HMO (health maintenance organization); a program designed to greatly reduce healthcare costs by helping subscribers better manage their level of care.
The second type of coverage is known as major medical or catastrophic care. This type of health insurance was the norm in America until the HMO became widespread in the 1970s. With this type of care, you pay for all of your routine visits, and their associated care, on your own. Your insurance pays for catastrophic events like emergency room visits, heart attacks, and chronic or terminal conditions.
The third type of plan is known as the PPO (preferred provider organization). The PPO is similar to the HMO in that it seeks to keep healthcare costs down by managing your level of care. The main difference between the PPO and HMO is that doctors and healthcare facilities used in the PPO have all agreed to be part of a network, which offers reduced rates to subscribers. By seeking care within the network, costs are reduced.
The last of the four basic types of health insurance coverage is called the point of service (POS) plan. The POS plan is like a PPO on steroids. It takes the idea of managed care through a network of providers to the next level, by requiring subscribers to choose a primary care physician who will then be the main decision-maker in guiding the patient’s healthcare choices. It is generally the least expensive option but the most restrictive at the same time.
Can my employer help me sort these things out?
If your employer offers health insurance, they most likely offer only the choice between a major medical plan and one of the other options. There should be a member of the human resource department with enough experience to explain to you the different options. If your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, you can try to get it through other organizations or purchase a policy directly from a provider.
At the end of the day, all of this information takes us back to the Internet search site that you’re on right now. This is the best place to begin your search because it’s simple, efficient, and quick. Once the search engine returns multiple quotes to you, you’ll have a starting point to begin your comparisons. Just be sure to ask many questions and don’t stop until you have all your answers.
Get started right now in your search for online health insurance rates by entering your zip code below.