What Is An HMO Insurance Plan?
Wondering about affordable HMO insurance plans? HMO insurance does not actually constitute insurance. It refers to a type of insurance plan that’s managed by an HMO, also known as a Health Maintenance Organization. This article can help provide the answers you’re looking for. Keep reading to learn all about HMOs.
What is HMO Insurance?
HMO insurance refers to the types of insurance plans that allow you to visit a select network of doctors and specialists who work with your health insurance provider. Generally, there are no exceptions to this rule unless a medical emergency occurs.
These plans may be helpful for families looking to maintain their health care expenses, however it’s important to know they may not be valid in every state.
What Are the Features of an HMO Insurance Plan?
HMO plans usually only offer in-network health coverage. Networks affiliate with certain providers to negotiate prices that can be lower for plan members than for someone without insurance. Seeking coverage outside of an HMO’s network may result in paying the full bill out-of-pocket for the benefits and services you receive, with the exception of a medical emergency.
Carefully examine your health insurance plan’s provider network list to determine if it is right for your needs. You’ll want to verify that your current doctors and pharmacies are included in-network, as well as your preferred hospital.
How Much Does an HMO Insurance Plan Cost?
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MA-PD) HMO plan can have a monthly premium of $18—averaging to about $216 annually. This is less than the average monthly rate for other types of health plans, including local and regional PPOs.
Despite how restrictive HMO plans can be when it comes to choosing your health care provider, they are often the least expensive types of insurance plans available. When you do receive care from an in-network provider, you may be responsible for a copay—or the amount you pay for your doctor visits—each time you receive care. This regular amount can help you better manage your out-of-pocket costs rather than paying towards an annual deductible or coinsurance.
The Differences Between HMO and PPO
As you learn about HMO insurance plans, you may also see the comparison between another common type of health plan: PPO. Short for Preferred Provider Organization, PPOs and HMOs are the two plan types that are more often compared and contrasted with one another. While both provide health coverage to families and individuals, the difference between HMO and PPO can be as distinct as night and day.
HMOs restrict your ability to visit out-of-network providers at the risk of not having coverage, but PPOs allow you to select doctors, hospitals, and providers at your discretion. However, if you do see a doctor or specialist who is out of network, you can expect to pay a higher out-of-pocket expense and fill out more paperwork for your health insurance provider to help with the cost. The freedom to choose multiple doctors and responsibility for the cost of care are other key differences between these two popular plans.
When you’re enrolled in a PPO, there’s not a limit to just one primary care provider, and you can pursue care from a specialist without a referral. If you decide to go outside of your network for treatment, your PPO provider may cover some of the expense, but it’s generally less expensive to stay within your network.
This freedom to choose plans does come at a price. As mentioned previously, the average cost of a PPO plan is more expensive, both per month and year, than an HMO plan. Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MA-PD) PPO plans average from $25-48 per month and can total to $300-576 annually.
What Other Types of Healthcare Plans Are Available?
POS, EPO, HSA, and HDHP are a few other types of plans that available in most areas. HMO and PPO plans are just some of the many types of plans you may come across in your search for health insurance.
POS, or Point-of-Service, is a blend of HMO and PPO plans. Similar to an HMO plan, you are required to choose one in-network primary care physician; yet similar to a PPO, you are able to visit providers out of network with less coverage than you would receive in-network.
If you decide to use an out-of-network provider, it may cost you more, and you may have to pay higher deductibles and coinsurances. However, if you receive a referral from your primary care provider, the POS plan may provide coverage.
EPO, or Exclusive Provider Organization, is similar to HMO plans, without the need of your primary care physician deciding which specialists you can visit. These plans do require you to stay within your health insurance provider’s network in order to receive coverage for your health care. EPOs and HMOs are comparable as both generally restrict you to in-network providers unless an emergency occurs. Copayments with EPOs can be smaller, like HMOs.
HSA, or Health Savings Account, can be considered more as bank accounts than insurance plans. These are tax-deductible plans that cover the healthcare expenses your health insurance provider doesn’t. HSAs are often combined with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). Your HSA balance will roll over each year, and they’re tax-free.
HDHPs, or High Deductible Health Plans, are types of insurance that provide a higher deductible than most other plans. Qualified HDHPs are typically paired with HSA accounts, where pre-taxed money can be set aside to help cover the deductible when you receive health care.
HDHP prices are the result of negotiation between your insurance company and medical providers. With an HDHP, you may pay less than an uninsured person. You pay any of your healthcare expenses towards your deductible. Once you achieve that amount, the health insurance company will begin its payment.
HMO, PPO, POS … Which One is Right For You?
With the many pros and cons of these types of health plans, it can require careful research and understanding of your own needs to choose the right plan. It’s important to understand you and your family’s unique medical and financial situation before beginning your search for health insurance.
Does your family require more medical attention that goes beyond annual exams and checkups? Do you need help paying out-of-pocket costs for chronic diseases or physical therapy treatments?
- An HMO plan may be helpful if you don’t see your primary care provider that often and want healthcare services at a lower cost.
- A PPO plan may be useful if you’re interested in a wider selection of providers, especially if you reside in a rural region and require visiting a specialist for care.
- An EPO plan may be ideal if you’re looking for a lower premiums and dislike referrals to specialists.
- An HSA may be the right plan for you if you want more flexibility and want to carefully monitor your expenses.
With the restrictions and flexibility some of these plans offer, it’s important to consider both the monthly premium rates as well as the deductible, copayments, and coinsurance you may be responsible for with each type of plan.
Find an HMO Insurance Plan
No matter what type of plan you’re looking for, HealthMarkets can help you find the right one for you and your loved ones. If you’re looking for an affordable HMO insurance plan or you’re curious about your options, compare plans online at no cost to you. You can also call 1-800-360-1402 to speak with a licensed insurance agent today.