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What Types of Insurance Plans Are There?

What Types of Insurance Plans Are There?

Managed Care: An Explanation
You will hear the term "managed care" quite a lot in the United States. It is a way for insurers to help control costs. Managed care influences how much health care an individual use. Almost all plans have some sort of managed care program to help control costs. For example, if an individual need to go to the hospital, one form of managed care requires that he receive approval from his insurance company before he is admitted to make sure that the hospitalization is needed. If he goes to the hospital without this approval, he may not be covered for the hospital bill.
Fee-for-Service Plans
This is the traditional kind of health care policy. Insurance companies pay fees for the services provided to the insured people covered by the policy. This type of health insurance offers the most choices of doctors and hospitals. An individual can choose any doctor he wishes and change doctors any time. He can go to any hospital in any part of the country.
With fee-for-service, the insurer only pays for part of doctor and hospital bills. Individual’s pay a monthly fee, called a premium.
A certain amount of money each year, known as the deductible, is paid for by the individual before the insurance payments begin. In a typical plan, the deductible might be $250 for each person in a family, with a family deductible of $500 when at least two people in the family have reached the individual deductible. The deductible requirement applies each year of the policy. Also, not all health expenses have count toward the deductible. Only those covered by the policy do. Individual need to check the insurance policy to find out which ones are covered.
After individual has paid deductible amount for the year, he would share the bill with the insurance company. For example, individual might pay 20 percent while the insurer pays 80 percent. Individual’s portion is called "coinsurance".
To receive payment for fee-for-service claims, individual may have to fill out forms and send them to insurer. Sometimes doctor's office will do this for Insured. Individual also need to keep receipts for drugs and other medical costs and is responsible for keeping track of his own medical expenses.
There are limits as to how much an insurance company will pay for a claim if both individual and his spouse file for it under two different group insurance plans. A coordination of benefit clause usually limits benefits under two plans to no more than 100 percent of the claim.
Most fee-for-service plans have a "cap," the most individual will have to pay for medical bills in any one year. He reaches the cap when out-of-pocket expenses (for deductible and coinsurance) total a certain amount. It may be as low as $1,000 or as high as $5,000. The insurance company then pays the full amount in excess of the cap for the items listed in policy. The cap does not include what individual pay for monthly premium.
Some services are limited or not covered at all. Insured need to check on preventive health care coverage such as immunizations and well-child care.
There are two kinds of fee-for-service coverage: basic and major medical. Basic protection pays toward the costs of a hospital room and care while patient is in the hospital. It covers some hospital services and supplies, such as x-rays and prescribed medicine. Basic coverage also pays toward the cost of surgery, whether it is performed in or out of the hospital, and for some doctor visits. Major medical insurance takes over where insured basic coverage leaves off. It covers the cost of long, high-cost illnesses or injuries.
Some policies combine basic and major medical coverage into one plan. This is sometimes called a "Comprehensive Plan." Insured need to check whether his policy covers both kinds of protection.

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
Health maintenance organizations are prepaid health plans. As an HMO member, insured pay a monthly premium. In exchange, the HMO provides comprehensive care for the insured & his family, including doctors' visits, hospital stays, emergency care, surgery, laboratory (lab) tests, x-rays, and therapy.
The HMO arranges for this care either directly in its own group practice and/or through doctors and other health care professionals under contract. Usually, patient choices of doctors and hospitals are limited to those that have agreements with the HMO to provide care. However, exceptions are made in emergencies or when medically necessary.
There may be a small co-payment for each office visit, such as $5 for a doctor's visit or $25 for hospital emergency room treatment. Individual total medical costs will likely be lower and more predictable in an HMO than with fee-for-service insurance.
Because HMOs receive a fixed fee for your covered medical care, it is in their interest to make sure patient get basic health care for problems before they become serious. HMOs typically provide preventive care, such as office visits, immunizations, well-baby checkups, mammograms, and physicals. The range of services covered varies in HMOs, so it is important to compare available plans. Some services, such as outpatient mental health care, often are provided only on a limited basis.
Many people like HMOs because they do not require claim forms for office visits or hospital stays. Instead, members present a card, like a credit card, at the doctor's office or hospital. However, in an HMO individual may have to wait longer for an appointment than he would with a fee-for-service plan.
In some HMOs, doctors are salaried and they all have offices in an HMO building at one or more locations in individual’s community as part of a prepaid group practice. In others, independent groups of doctors contract with the HMO to take care of patients. These are called individual practice associations (IPAs) and they are made up of private physicians in private offices who agree to care for HMO members. Individual select a doctor from a list of participating physicians that make up the IPA network. If an individual is thinking of switching into an IPA-type of HMO, he needs to check whether doctor participates in the plan.
In almost all HMOs, individuals are either assigned or choose one doctor to serve as patient’s primary care doctor. This doctor monitors health and provides most of patient’s medical care, referring to specialists and other health care professionals as needed. Patient usually cannot see a specialist without a referral from primary care doctor who is expected to manage the care received by the patient. This is one way that HMOs can limit patient’s choice.

Point-of-Service Plans (POS)
Many HMOs offer an indemnity-type option known as a POS plan. The primary care doctors in a POS plan usually make referrals to other providers in the plan. But in a POS plan, members can refer themselves outside the plan and still get some coverage.
If the doctor makes a referral out of the network, the plan pays all or most of the bill. If patient refer themselves to a provider outside the network and the service is covered by the plan then patient will have to pay coinsurance.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs)
The preferred provider organization is a combination of traditional fee-for-service and an HMO. Like an HMO, there are a limited number of doctors and hospitals to choose from. When patient use those providers (sometimes called "preferred" providers, other times called "network" providers), most of his medical bills are covered.
When patient go to doctors in the PPO, he present a card and do not have to fill out forms. Usually there is a small co-payment for each visit. For some services, patient may have to pay a deductible and coinsurance.
As with an HMO, a PPO requires that patient choose a primary care doctor to monitor his health care. Most PPOs cover preventive care. This usually includes visits to the doctor, well-baby care, immunizations, and mammograms.
In a PPO, patient can use doctors who are not part of the plan and still receive some coverage. At these times, patient will pay a larger portion of the bill himself (and also fill out the claims forms). Some people like this option because even if their doctor is not a part of the network, it means they do not have to change doctors to join a PPO.

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