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A PPO plan is a Preferred Provider Organization group health insurance policy.
With a PPO plan, employees are encouraged to use a network of preferred doctors and hospitals. These providers are contracted to provide service to plan members at a negotiated or discounted rate. Employees generally aren't required to designate a primary care physician, but will have the choice to see any doctors or specialists within the plans network.
Employees have an annual deductible they'll be required to meet before the insurance company begins covering their medical bills. They may also have a copayment for certain services or a co-insurance where they're responsible for a percentage of the total charges of their medical expenses.
With a PPO, services rendered outside of the network may result in a higher out-of-pocket cost.
An HMO is a Health Maintenance Organization group health insurance policy.
With an HMO plan, employees generally have a lower out-of-pocket expense but also have less flexibility in the choice of physicians or hospitals than other plans. An HMO may require employees to choose a primary care physician (PCP). To see a specialist, employees will need to obtain a referral from their PCP.
HMOs generally provide coverage for a broader range of preventative services than other policies. Employees may or may not be required to pay a deductible before their coverage starts, and will usually have a copayment.
Most of the time, there are no claim forms to file on an HMO. The main thing you will want to keep in mind is that with most HMO plans, employees have no coverage if they go outside of their network without proper authorizations from their PCP or in cases of certain emergency situations.
A POS is a Point of Service group health insurance policy.
POS plans combine features of an HMO and a PPO plan. Just like an HMO, POS plans may require employees to choose a Primary Care Physician (PCP) from the plan's network providers. Generally, services rendered by the PCP aren't subject to the policy's deductible.
If employees utilize covered services that are rendered or referred by their PCP, they may receive the higher level of coverage. If they utilize services by a non-network provider, they may be subject to a deductible and lower level of coverage. They may also have to pay up-front and submit a claim for reimbursement.