Today, most health insurance falls under what is called "managed care" in which you pay monthly premiums, as well as co-pays and deductibles. The four main types of health insurance are briefly described below. For more information contact your plan administrator.
In addition, due to the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in July 2012, starting in 2014 states may opt to create a "healthcare exchange" that enable individuals and small businesses to compare health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for tax credits for private insurance or health programs like the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in a health plan that meets their needs.
Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) provide health care for their members through a network of hospitals and physicians. Comprehensive benefits typically include preventive care, such as physical examinations, well baby care and immunizations, and stop-smoking and weight control programs. The choice of primary care providers is limited to one physician within a network; however, there is frequently a wide choice for the primary care physician.
A preferred provider organization (PPO) is a network of physicians and/or hospitals that contracts with a health insurer or employer to provide health care to employees at predetermined discounted rates. PPOs offer a broad choice of health care providers.
Point of Service (POS) health care plans are similar to HMOs in that you choose a primary-care doctor from the plan's network, but you must have a referral in order to see in-network specialists. You can also see out of network providers as long as you get a referral first.
Another option to consider is a high-deductible health insurance combined with a health-savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). By law, the two must be linked.
HSAs should not be confused with FSAs (Flexible Spending Accounts). Money that you set aside in a health savings account or a health reimbursement arrangement to pay for certain medical expenses is tax-free. HSAs must be linked to a high-deductible health insurance plan, and HRAs often are. (For preventive care, such as cancer screenings, you might not have to pay the deductible first.) Typically, a special debit type card is used for the HSA or HRA account to keep track of expenses and payments.