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A brief review of the typical plans available when buying health insurance.

There are two basic types of individual and family healthplans: Indemnity or fee-for-services (FFS) and managed care. 

Indemnity health insurance plans — Indemnity plans allow you to choose your doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers. You pay a monthly premium and the plan reimburses you or your provider directly. You are typically responsible for meeting a deductible and paying a percentage of the bill. There is usually a limit on your out-of-pocket expenses. When you or your family reaches this limit, the insurance covers 100%. 

Your premium is going to be partially based on the health services that the plan covers. There are a variety of different plans. Basic and essential plans have limited benefits and may not cover such things as prescription drugs or maternity. But the premium is much lower than plans that provide coverage for a wider variety of healthcare services.

High deductible health insurance is an inexpensive health insurance plan that typically has lower premiums. You must meet a relatively high deductible, such as $1,000 per individual, before benefits start. This is also known as catastrophic health insurance because people use it for protection from expensive services rather than lower price health care such as routine doctor visits. 

A benefit to a high deductible health plan is that you can also open a health savings account (HSA). An HSA is a savings account that allows you pay qualified medical expenses tax-free. You have a lot of flexibility and can use the money to pay for deductibles, coinsurance and even over-the-counter medications.

Managed care health insurance plans — Managed care plans typically use healthcare provider networks to provide lower out-of-pocket costs and less paperwork than indemnity plans. The three basic managed care plans are Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO), Point of Service (POS) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO).

HMO health insurance gives you access to a network of healthcare providers. You select a primary care doctor from the network who coordinates your health care needs and refers you to specialists when necessary. You typically pay a small fee or copayment for services.

POS health plans often provide a higher-level of service. Your primary care physician can refer you to providers outside of the network, but you may have to pay a coinsurance.

PPO health insurance usually doesn't require that you have a primary care physician and allows you to choose healthcare providers within the network without a referral. You may also go outside the network but will probably need to pay additional fees. 

There is no best health insurance plan. It all depends on you and your family's needs. When buying health insurance, be sure you completely understand what is covered, what providers you can use and what your deductibles, copayments and other financial responsibilities are before you purchase the policy. 

LowerYourInsurance.com makes it easy for you to find coverage for your health care and medical needs. Simply enter your Zip code and select "Get Quotes" from the box above to compare several plans side by side, or enter your Zip code in the Insureme Quote Box to get up to five quotes from professionals in your area.

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