The best health insurance plan is one that will give you the most benefits for the least amount of money. Here's a rundown on the pros and cons of today's health insurance plans.
Indemnity plans are the original health insurance plan, but fewer and fewer people are buying them these days because of their high premiums.
* Pros - You can choose your own physicians and hospitals.
* Cons - You must pay a $500 to $1,000 deductible before your insurer will pay your claims. You may have to pay your medical bills yourself, then submit your bills for reimbursement. If your doctor charges more than what your insurer considers "reasonable and customary" you end up paying the difference.
HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) are the least expensive and the least flexible health plans.
*Pros - Your co-payments (the amount you pay before your insurer pays a bill) are cheap, usually $5 to $10. The paperwork involved is much less than that of an indemnity plan.
*Cons - You can only visit doctors within a prescribed network of doctors. You must choose an in-network primary care physician who oversees your medical services, and you must get a referral from him or her to see a specialist.
PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations) are more flexible and cost a little more than HMOs.
*Pros - Your co-payments are cheap - $5 to $10. You may visit an in-network specialist without getting permission.
* Cons - If you see a non-network physician you may have to pay his bill and submit it to your insurer for reimbursement. You may also have to pay a deductible or pay the difference between the non-network physician's bill and what a network physician's bill would be.
POSs (Point of Service plans) are more flexible and cost slightly more than PPOs.
* Pros - You can visit a non-network doctor with your primary care physician's approval and still receive coverage. These plans offer more preventative care (health workshops, health club discounts, etc.) than HMOs and PPOs.
* Cons - You must pick a primary care physician to oversee your services. If your primary care physician does not approve your visit to a non-network physician, you may have to submit the physician's bill and only receive partial payment.
Best Health Insurance Rates
Getting the best price on health insurance is the same as getting the best price on anything else - you have to comparison shop. The quickest and easiest way to shop for health plans is to go to an insurance comparison website. There you'll fill out a simple form with your health information and the type of insurance you want, then wait for your quotes.
Some comparison sites even have an insurance expert on call who can answer your questions either by phone or through an online chat service. (See link below.)