What Is A PPO?

What is a PPO, and how does it work? Read on to find out.

Do you want to know what is a PPO? Is it safe to say that you are thinking about pursuing a PPO health insurance plan? If so, then you must make sure that you understand how it works so that you are able to select the plan that is perfect according to your situation. Seeing how it functions will help you utilize your health insurance viably and stay away from all costly errors. So, without much further ado, let us look at what a PPO is.

What is a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)?

A preferred provider organization (PPO) is a clinical consideration plan in which medical experts and facilities offer types of assistance to registered customers at discounted rates. PPO clinical and healthcare providers are called preferred providers. A Preferred Provider Organization, or PPO, is likewise an organization of healthcare providers that give its individuals numerous options in regards to healthcare and healthcare providers.

PPOs don’t limit patients from getting care in-network, and it’s discretionary to assign a PCP (primary care physician). Patients can make appointments straightforwardly with the providers without needing any references. For the most part, PPO plans give better advantages and lower costs for services profited from network providers, which insured individuals are urged to utilize. Be that as it may, individuals can likewise get care from providers outside of the organization, in spite of the fact that they will probably have to pay more for it.

Let us look at an example. Mr. Jacob is enrolled in a PPO plan. Despite the fact that he sees a PCP, he visits him only for his yearly physical check-up. At the point when he needs to see a specialist, he does his own research and books an appointment with him/her. A couple of months ago, his foot was troubling him so he made an appointment with a nearby in-network podiatrist. He paid a $25 co-payment and 10% of the expense of the X-ray. In addition to this, he also visits an out-of-network advisor and pays him the complete expense. At this point, Jacob presents a case and is repaid a fraction of the expense.

PPO basics

Networks: Similar to HMOs, PPOs have an organization of specialists and different providers. Be that as it may, you can decide to see out-of-network providers. As a rule, you pay a greater expense to see providers who are not in the organization. The in-network providers have a concurrence with your PPO that sets a cost to give you assistance, similar to a visit to the doctor’s office or getting a medical treatment/surgery. These providers can’t charge you more than the set cost. However, a provider that isn’t a member of the organization can charge you more. Check with your PPO plan about its provider organization and about costs.

Primary care doctors and medical groups: In many PPOs, you are not needed to choose the fundamental specialist, otherwise called a primary care physician or PCP. Some PPOs will request that you select a specialist or a clinical gathering that will give the vast majority of your consideration. A clinical group is a gathering of specialists and different providers that contract with a health plan. Check with your PPO plan about its guidelines and the organization of providers.

Referrals and pre-approvals: In many PPOs, you generally can go to a trained professional and get certain different administrations without first seeing an essential consideration specialist and getting a reference. You or your primary care physician might have to get pre-endorsement from your PPO before specific medicines, treatments, or services are performed. Check with your PPO plan about its guidelines in regards to references and pre-endorsements.

Understanding PPOs

PPO stands for preferred provider organization. PPOs got this name since they have arrangements of healthcare providers that they want you to utilize. In the event that you get your health care from these preferred providers, you save money. PPOs are a sort of managed care health insurance plans like their far-off relatives, health maintenance organizations, or HMOs. Different sorts of managed care plans including POS (point of service) and EPO (executive provider organization).

How does a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) work?

Most health insurance plans are overhauled through either a preferred provider organization (PPO) or a health maintenance organization (HMO). A PPO is a managed care organization composed of clinical experts and offices like primary care physicians and specialists, emergency clinics, and other healthcare experts. These experts contract with the insurance provider to deliver services to registered members at a lower rate that is settled upon. In return for diminished rates, guarantors pay the PPO an expense to get to the organization of providers.

Providers and guarantors arrange expenses and timetables for administrations. PPO members are allowed to utilize the administrations of any provider within their organization. Out-of-network care is also accessible, however, it costs more for the individuals who already have insurance. A sensible and standard charge plan is utilized for out-of-network claims. In the event that those cases surpass the sensible and standard expenses for administrations delivered, inclusion may not have any significant bearing or, most usually, the extra charge will be the obligation of the patient. Moreover, PPO endorsers ordinarily pay a co-payment per provider visit, or they should meet a deductible before insurance covers or pays the case.

PPO plans will in general charge higher expenses since they are costlier to direct and oversee. In any case, they offer greater adaptability contrasted with elective plans. PPO networks are enormous, with providers in numerous urban areas and states. The adaptability in picking a provider or getting to a provider in pressing circumstances offers some benefit to members. PPOs work in the accompanying manners:

Cost-sharing: Both you and your PPO share the cost. A PPO utilizes cost-sharing to assist with keeping costs within proper limits. At the point when you see the specialist or use healthcare administrations, you pay for part of the expense of those administrations yourself as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. Cost-sharing is important for a PPO’s framework for ensuring that you truly need the healthcare administrations you’re getting. At the point when you need to pay something for your care, even a little copayment, you’re less inclined to utilize superfluous administrations pointlessly. On account of the Affordable Care Act, non-grandfathered plans can’t need any expense sharing for certain preventive administrations. In addition to this, cost-sharing aides offset the expense of your consideration. The more you pay toward the expense of your consideration, the less your health insurance plan pays, and the lower it can keep month-to-month premium costs.

Provider networks: On the off chance that you utilize a PPO’s organization of providers, you save money. A PPO limits who are where you get healthcare administrations by the utilization of an organization of healthcare providers with whom it has arranged limits. A PPO’s organization incorporates doctors, and every possible sort of healthcare administration like labs, X-ray offices, actual advisors, clinical hardware providers, medical clinics, and outpatient medical procedure places.


As opposed to PPOs, HMO plans expect members to get healthcare administrations from an allocated provider — a primary care physician who arranges the protected person’s consideration. The two projects permit the safeguarded to look for expert consideration. Notwithstanding, under an HMO plan, the assigned primary care physician should give a reference to a trained professional.

PPO plans charge higher expenses than HMOs for the accommodation, availability, and opportunity that PPOs offer, such as a more extensive selection of clinics and specialists. Plans with the least cash-based costs, like those with low deductibles and low co-payments, have higher charges. The raised premium expense is because of the safety net provider retaining a greater amount of the related expenses. Alternately, lower-premium options convert into higher cash-based expenses for the protected and lower costs for the backup plan.

A few members favor HMO plans for their reasonableness, despite the fact that administrations and opportunities commonly connected with PPO plans are regularly confined. PPO plans are likewise more exhaustive in regards to inclusion, including many administrations that other managed care projects may bar or for which they would charge an extra premium.

Furthermore, generally, PPO plans were the preferred decision among employer group members. In any case, today, members need more choices for managed healthcare. Consequently, many groups offer HMO plans, too. Since HMO charges are more affordable, a few members favor HMO plans for their cheaper expenses, in spite of the fact that services and opportunities ordinarily connected with PPO plans are frequently limited.

PPO costs

In-network costs

  • Premium: The expense the PPO charges every month to keep up with your coverage. The total premium is the thing that you pay PLUS what your boss pays.
  • Co-pay: The level of expense that you pay each time you see a doctor or get services. Specialist visits, professionally prescribed medications, emergency center visits, and hospital stays have distinctive co-pays.
  • Co-insurance: Many PPOs charge you a co-insurance rather than a co-pay. The coinsurance is a percent of the cost of a service.
  • Yearly deductible: Some PPOs have a yearly deductible. This is the sum you should pay every year to providers before your PPO pays anything. In many plans, the yearly deductible doesn’t have any significant bearing on preventive administrations. You might pay a different yearly deductible for physician-recommended drugs.
  • Out-of-pocket maximum: This is the entire amount you need to pay every year for the greater part of your services. Nonetheless, you might in any case pay co-pays or co-insurance for certain administrations, like physician recommended medications or clinical gear, even get-togethers that meet your yearly maximum.
  • Hospital costs: The coinsurance or copay for a hospital stay can cost a great deal. On the off chance that you pay a co-insurance, you pay a percent of the hospital costs. This can be quite a lot.

Out-of-network costs

On the off chance that you see a provider outside the PPO organization, your cost will rely upon the PPO’s permitted sum or regular rate for the assistance. In the event that the provider charges more than the permitted sum, you need to pay the extra amount. Likewise, you need to pay part of the permitted sum. Before you see an out-of-network specialist, ask your PPO the amount it will pay. Also, ask the specialist’s charging staff what the cost will be

HMO vs. PPO: Cost analysis

The cost of health insurance is a significant differentiator between an HMO and a PPO. With a PPO, the compromise for getting a tad bit of coverage outside of your organization is typically a higher month-to-month premium. An HMO offers no coverage outside of the organization, yet patients commonly appreciate lower premiums. For instance, the average 2021 month-to-month premium for an HMO is $427 ($5,124 yearly), compared to a month-to-month average of $517 for a PPO ($5,628 every year).

For the most part, the cash-based costs for an HMO might be lower than those of a PPO. HMOs commonly don’t have yearly deductibles and possibly charge a copay at the hour of administration when in-network. PPOs can be somewhat more complicated. They frequently incorporate deductibles, coinsurance, or copays. Everything relies upon your plan. On the off chance that your plan is planned with copays just, this will work like the HMO plans do. You pay a set sum at the hour of administration. Notwithstanding, in the event that you have a deductible with coinsurance, you will pay a specific rate for administrations until your deductible is met. After your deductible is met, you might in any case have to make a copayment at the hour of administration.

What services are covered?

The scope of covered administrations shifts starting with one plan then onto the next. In the event that a plan is offered on any Affordable Care Act (ACA) commercial center, it is needed to cover preventive care (like tests, physicals, or vaccinations) just as emergency services and maternity care. These administrations are known as the fundamental advantages.

Filing a claim: Another contrast between an HMO and a PPO is the measure of legwork it takes on the two finishes. With an HMO, patients don’t have to document a case in light of the fact that the insurance company pays the healthcare provider straightforwardly. Under a PPO, notwithstanding, a patient should at times first pay out-of-network providers for any administrations obtained and afterward record a case for repayment from their insurance company.

Filling a prescription: Just as HMO clients are restricted to an organization for providers, the equivalent is valid for drug stores. Patients should have their prescriptions filled at in-network areas to get coverage. PPOs, in the interim, permit patients to fill a remedy anyplace. In any case, you might pay more for doctor-prescribed medications when utilizing an out-of-network drug store.

HMO versus PPO for dental: HMO and PPO plans for dental consideration — called DHMO and DPPO — work simply the same way as customary HMOs and PPOs. A DHMO will require a primary care dental specialist and ordinarily comes with lower cash-based costs and regularly no coverage outside of the organization.

Why would I choose a PPO?

Give below are some reasons why you should choose PPO:

  • You have a specialist you like and you need to keep this specialist, and the specialist is in the PPO organization.
  • You need to see trained professionals and different providers without getting references and pre-endorsement first.
  • You need to a greater extent a selection of specialists and hospitals you can go to.
  • You need the opportunity to see providers who are not in the organization. You will pay an additional cost if an out-of-network provider charges more than the PPO’s permitted sum.

Why would I not choose a PPO?

Given below are a few reasons as to why you should not choose a PPO:

  • You want to avoid more paperwork related to insurance claims.
  • You want fixed costs instead of a percentage of service costs.
  • You do not want to get bills from providers.

Why would a person choose a PPO over an HMO?

Selecting an HMO or PPO plan totally depends on your personal choice. Here are some facts that may help you figure out what’s the ideal situation for you:

  • In 2020, 47% of covered workers enrolled in an employer-supplied health insurance plan chose a PPO, compared to just 13% of covered workers who chose an HMO.
  • HMO vs. PPO annual customer satisfaction ratings of more than 1,000 health insurance plans are conducted by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Their most recent data set was published in 2019.
  • More people are enrolled in PPO plans than HMOs.

How to choose an HMO or PPO?

When choosing the two kinds of insurance approaches, consider what might be generally essential to you. Recollect that PPOs can get basically restricted coverage with an out-of-network provider, and for prescriptions at any drug store. In addition, with regards to PPOs. the provider or policyholder should document a case to get payment of advantages. In this way, you should contemplate if these things are imperative to you.

Also, you might need to consider the accessible healthcare where you reside. Possibly you live in a provincial region, and there are very few doctors inside an HMO network close by. Or on the other hand, maybe your number one specialist isn’t essential for an HMO organization. Consider the possibility that you head out regularly and need to see a specialist while away. In these cases, you might need to settle on a PPO to help adaptability.

On the opposite side of the coin, a few groups like to have a PCP coordinate all their healthcare, keep a more nitty-gritty record of health history, and offer the more personal insight of seeing a similar specialist each time. Enormous families regularly think that it is advantageous to have a PCP who can fill in as a family specialist. In these cases, an HMO may be best.

How to enroll in an HMO or PPO?

Regardless of whether you’ve settled on an HMO or a PPO, you can select the plan of your decision each fall during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for singular health insurance or the Annual Election Period (AEP) for Medicare enrollees. For instance, the 2021 OEP plan is something like this:

November 1, 2020= Open enrollment starts. New plans and prices were accessible for preview and enrollment.

December 15, 2020= This was the last day to enroll in or alter plans for coverage that was to begin on January 1, 2021.

Additional Deadlines= Some states extended their OEP deadline.

For Medicare enrollees, remember these dates:

October 15= The Annual Election Period (AEP) starts. During this time, you may change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans have HMO and PPO options. You may also switch back to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan or alter Medicare Advantage plans.

December 7= This is the last day to make any alterations to your Medicare coverage for it to start on January 1.

January 1= Your new Medicare coverage begins. This is also the beginning of the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. You may leave a Medicare Advantage plan and change to Original Medicare during this period.

March 31= The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period finishes. This is the last day you may switch back to Original Medicare and add a Part D prescription drug plan.

The difference between a PPO and other types of health insurance

Managed care plans like HMOs, executive provider organizations (EPOs), and point of service (POS) plans contrast from PPOs and from one another severally. Some pay for out-of-network care; some don’t. Some have negligible cost-sharing; others have huge deductibles and require huge coinsurance and copays. Some require a primary care physician (PCP) to go about as your watchman, just permitting you to get healthcare administrations with a reference from your PCP; others don’t. Furthermore, PPOs are for the most part more costly (for a plan with comparable cost-sharing) since they give you more opportunity of decision as far as the clinical providers you can utilize.

Pros of a preferred provider organization (PPO) plan

Let’s start with the advantages of PPOs that make PPO plans very beneficial.

Freedom of choice: Given that PPO plans offer a whole organization of specialists and hospitals for you to look over, you have a great deal of say in where you get your care and who from. Any specialist and healthcare office within your insurance company’s organization all offer something very similar in-network cost. Likewise, you don’t need to commit to a solitary primary care physician. This is particularly convenient in the event that you travel regularly and can’t consistently see a similar specialist each time you’re expected for an appointment.

No referrals needed: Another advantage of not being secured with one primary care physician implies that you needn’t bother with a reference to see a subject matter expert. Different plans, for example, the health support organization (HMO) plan, would necessitate that you previously set up an appointment with your PCP who might then think of you as a reference to see a trained professional. Avoiding this progression of mentioning a reference from a PCP saves you the time and cash you would spend on the additional appointment, and gets you to the particular consideration you need that much quicker.

Out-of-network availability: While it’s recommended that you look for care from a specialist or hospital that is within your organization, you can in any case get the consideration you need halfway covered on the off chance that you go outside of your organization. You’ll simply need to pay more extra cash-based costs than you would on the off chance that you had gotten care from one of the preferred providers. Other health plans, for example, the HMO plan, strictly necessitate that you just get care from clinical providers inside your organization, which implies you wouldn’t have the option to get any bit of your consideration covered in case you’re out of the organization. The only special case is on account of genuine health-related crises.

Cons of a preferred provider organization (PPO) plan

Given below are some cons of PPO plans:

Higher premium costs: Data from the KFF tracks down that covered specialists who took on PPO plans have higher normal premiums for both single and family coverage than the general average premiums. The complete average yearly premium cost for a solitary PPO plan is $7,880 and $22,248 for a family plan. In a method of comparison, an HMO plan has less than $7,238 for a solitary plan and $20,809 for a family plan.

Deductible costs: With a PPO plan, you’ll have a yearly deductible, which addresses the cash you’ll need to pay cash based on before your insurance will cover anything. In addition to this, deductibles can go from $1,701 to $4,000 for high deductible health plans. For instance, suppose you have a PPO plan with a $2,000 deductible. On the off chance that you break your arm in January and are charged a bill of $850, you would need to pay the full $850 using cash on hand, since you haven’t paid $2,000 worth of clinical costs that year yet.


Now that you have read this article, you know all about what is a PPO. It is a kind of health plan that contracts with clinical providers, like hospitals and specialists, to make an organization of taking part providers. You pay less on the off chance that you use providers that have a place with the plan’s organization. You can utilize specialists, hospitals, and providers outside of the organization for an extra cost.

Charles Bains

Charles Bains

Charles Bains started his insurance career as a marketing intern before pounding the pavement as a commercial lines agent in Orlando, FL. As an industry journalist, his articles have appeared in a variety of trade publications. His insurance television career, short-lived but glorious, once saw him serve as the expert adviser on an insurance-themed infomercial (yes, you read that correctly). Having recently worked for various organizations, coupled with his broader insurance knowledge, Charles is able to understand our client’s needs and guide them accordingly. He is a gem for Insurance Noon as his wide area of expertise and experience have been beneficial in conducting further researches to come up with solutions and writing them in a manner which is easy for everyone including beginners to comprehend.