Health Insurance

Which type of health insurance is right for you? Image via combusean on Flickr

With the cost of health insurance on the rise, many employers are shopping around for new coverage every year and entertaining plans they would never have considered before.  If you are like many Americans who have had health insurance over the years, you have had an HMO or Health Maintenance Organization, at one point or another.  You may also have had a PPO or Preferred Provider Plan.  But as companies continue to search for health care options that are affordable, you may begin to hear about alternative plans, if you haven’t already.

To aid in your understanding of what the different types of plans are and how they differ, here is a basic overview of each of the main types of health insurance plans.

HMO – Health Maintenance Organization

HMO’s are often the lowest cost plans from both a premium and an out-of-pocket perspective.  Insurance companies lower costs by limiting which providers plan participants can visit.   The insurance company creates a network of doctors and hospitals that agree to accept lower fees in exchange for membership in the HMO.  Plan participants must go to an in-network provider or facility in order for it to be covered.  Participants choose a Primary Care Physician (PCP) that must refer them out to all other doctors and specialists.

Most HMO plans require participants to pay a premium and a co-pay with each service.  However, HMOs do not have a deductible and co-pays are always the same amount.

Bottomline on HMOs – Lowest out of pocket cost, lowest premium, least amount of choice

PPO – Preferred Provider Organization

PPO plans are similar to HMOs in that the insurance company negotiates lower rates with a network of providers and facilities.   Rather than having a set co-pay amount, a PPO will require a certain percentage of co-insurance, which means you pay a certain percentage of every bill.  Another difference with a PPO is that you have the option of going to a provider outside the company’s network that is covered, although, your percentage of the cost will be higher if you go out of network.

Bottomline on PPOs – Out of pocket depends on services received, slightly more expensive premium, more freedom of choice.

POS – Point of Service

Point of Service or POS plans take the freedom of choice provided in the PPO and the cost savings enabled by HMO coverage and melds them together.  Plan participants can go through their PCP and have services covered like in an HMO.  They can also choose a provider from the PPO network and coverage will be covered per the PPO rules, or they can go outside both networks and choose any provider they want.  If they decide to go outside the networks, they are subject to out-of-network rules.

Bottomline on POS – Out of pocket depends on services received, more expensive premium than HMO, and more freedom of choice.

Fee-For-Service Plan

In a Fee-For Service Plan, also called an indemnity plan, the insurance company pays for each service you receive.  Most FFS plans have a deductible that must be met before coverage kicks in which can be significant depending on the plan.

Bottomline of FFS – Out of pocket depends on services received, most expensive premium of the four main types of coverage, and complete freedom of choice.

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Pet Insurance

Do you need insurance for your pet? Image via Flickr

For many people, the pets in their lives are as precious to them as any other family member.  The dogs, cats, birds, and other animals in our lives have been there for us through thick and thin and the thought of not being able to be there for them is heartbreaking.  Take time this month, which is Responsible Pet Owner’s Month, to make a plan for dealing with unexpected illnesses or injuries for your pet.  Make sure you know where their medical records are kept and include the address and phone number of the closest veterinary hospital that offers urgent or emergency care with your other emergency contacts.  As you think through how you will cover the cost of veterinary care, look into the options you have for pet insurance.

Just like medical bills for the people in our families, vet bills for a sick or injured pet can quickly add-up.  Unfortunately, health insurance carriers don’t cover pets, regardless of their status as part of the family.    As the costs gets higher, you may be forced to decide how much the life of your pet is worth to your family, something no pet owner should ever have to do.

This is why companies, like Canyon Lands, offer a special type of insurance that provides coverage for your four-legged family members.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is like health insurance for your pets.  It helps to pay for veterinary bills when your cat or dog is sick or injured.  It ensures you will never have to decide if you can afford to do what is necessary to save the life of an animal you love.  Like other insurance policies, pet insurance comes with different levels of coverage.  Some policies only cover your animal in times of illness or if they are injured in an accident.  Other policies provide wellness care that pays for all or part of routine checkups, vaccinations, and other preventative care visits.

Why Do I Need It?

As new procedures for diagnosing and treating serious illness and injury have become available for animals, the cost of veterinary care has increased.  You would never hold off on taking your child or spouse to the doctor because you were worried about the cost, and you shouldn’t have to do that for your pets.  Pet insurance makes it possible to provide your pet with the best medical care when they need it most and lets you focus on taking care of your pet rather than figuring out how to take care of the bill.

What Does It Cover?

As with any insurance policy, it is important to read through the documents associated with a policy you are planning on purchasing to ensure you understand what is covered and what it not.  Many pet insurance policies cover illnesses, accidental injuries, and preventative care.  The policy will generally have a deductible, just like many other insurance policies, that must be met before coverage starts.  Policies may also require a co-pay with each visit or that you pay a percentage of each bill.  Some policies offer additional coverage that can help pay for standard medications and dental cleanings.

How Much Does It Cost?

Because there are many variables that impact the premium for pet insurance, the best way to determine what your cost would be is to talk to an agent.   Factors that impact your premium include what kind of pet you have, how old they are, where you live, and what kind of coverage you are looking to put in place.

Pet insurance provides you with a safety net and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you will be able to be there for your pet without having to worry about whether or not you can afford it.

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