Finding the right health insurance for a family of four depends on a number of factors, including the age of the family members, whether the children are adult children or under age 18 and, of course, the budget.
First, determine the type of health insurance plan – HMO, PPO or POS.
- HMOs: Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans are designed to cover health care services within a specific geographic area. These types of plans are economical when in-network health care providers are used to provide health insurance for the entire family. If you go out of this network, you will generally pay the full cost of health care (except for emergency care). These plans require you to have a Primary Care Provider (PCP), usually a doctor who coordinates all of your care. Some HMO plans require you to get a referral from your PCP before seeing a specialist for any covered member of your family.
- PPOs: Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans provide a larger (sometimes nationwide) network of doctors and hospitals to choose from. They will pay a portion of the cost if you see an out-of-network provider, but an in-network provider will cost you less out-of-pocket. These plans usually don’t require members to have a PCP and most plans don’t require a referral before seeing a specialist.
- POS: Point of Service (POS) plans are a combination of the HMO and PPO health insurance plans – members can go out of the network for health care, but they will pay a higher share of the cost. POS plans generally require a PCP to refer you to a specialist.