What do all those health insurance initials mean?

24284604 - portrait of a worried young couple looking at paperDo you know the difference between a PPO and a POS? Which type of health insurance plan is best for you and your family? Take a look below so you can make some headway through the alphabet soup of insurance coverage.


PPO stands for “Preferred Provider Organization.” Under this type of plan, you’re given a network of providers, and you’re free to see any of them (including specialists) without a referral. Sometimes, you are still required to choose a PCP (Primary Care Physician), but sometimes not.


HMO stands for “Health Maintenance Organization.” Just as in a PPO, you are presented with a network of providers. However, unlike a PPO, you must choose a PCP who will refer you for any necessary care. The provider network is also generally smaller than that of a PPO.


POS stands for “Point of Service” and is a blend of the PPO and the HMO systems. Although you’ll still need to pick a PCP, you have the flexibility of going outside the designated network for care – provided you’re willing to pay a bit more.


EPO stands for “Exclusive Provider Organization.” In this type of plan, you still have a network of providers, but unlike a POS, there is no coverage at all if you go outside the network. The only exception is likely to be in the event of an emergency.

Choosing the right health insurance plan can be confusing

Even when you know what all the letters stand for, it can still be difficult to choose the right health insurance plan – and the above list is by no means comprehensive. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to contact your insurance broker about the best kind of coverage for you.