HMO, PPO, EPO or POS: Which is right for you? (Part 2)


While we started to scratch the surface on the differences between an HMO, PPO, EPO and POS, we’d like to share more tangible details about how these different types of plans might impact your care and medical bills.

HMO, Key Details:

A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) gives you access to medical providers and hospitals in its select network. The network is a collection of medical providers and health care facilities that have met the standards of the insurance company and have agreed to reduce their rates for network members. Medical coverage is restricted to providers who are in-network. If you visit a doctor or hospital out-of-network, your insurance company will not cover any medical expenses.

As as HMO member, you must choose a Primary Care Physician or “gatekeeper” who will refer you to specialist doctors (i.e. Cardiologist, Dermatologist, Pathologist, etc.). Your Primary Care Physician serves as your health advocate – someone who will check to see what medical issues you have and refer you to appropriate specialized care providers. This way, you can be sure that you are visiting the right type of doctor every time you have a potential medical issue.

The HMO is a good choice if you:

  • Would like a central doctor who will serve as a coordinator for specialist care
  • Are not tied to particular doctors that are outside of the HMO network
  • Do not often need to seek medical care out of town
  • Are looking for the most affordable monthly premium within a certain insurance company

POS, Key Details:

A Point of Service (POS) plan uses a Primary Care Physician to refer you to in-network and out-of-network doctors. It will normally cost more to see out-of-network doctors. This type of plan is considered a HMO plan with more out-of-network coverage.

The POS is a good choice if you:

  • Would like a Primary Care Physician to coordinate your specialist care
  • Would like the option of seeking out-of-network care

PPO Key Notes:

With a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), you have more flexibility in choosing a doctor or hospital. Like an HMO, a PPO has a network of doctors that will be covered under your plan’s benefits. You can also see doctors outside of the PPO network, but it’s likely you have to pay more for these visits. There is no mandatory Primary Care Provider and you can see specialists that you pick yourself without needing a referral.

The PPO is a good choice if you:

  • Are often out of your provider’s area of medical coverage
  • Desire more flexibility when selecting specialists
  • Want to continue seeing a doctor who is outside of all available networks

EPO, Key Details:

An Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) has a network of doctors and hospitals that are used exclusively. You will not need a Primary Care Physician to refer you to specialist care. In this sense, an EPO is similar to a PPO but with a more limited network. If you go outside of the network then your expenses will not be covered by your EPO plan.

The EPO is a good choice if you:

  • Prefer choosing and visiting specialist doctors freely
  • Are comfortable seeking care in a close-knit network of providers
  • Do not often need to seek medical care when out of town

Our licensed brokers will be happy to help you understand your health care options and enroll you in the plan that works best for you. Make an appointment today if you have questions.

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