What is the Difference Between HMO & PPO Plans?

Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are health insurance plans offered by employers and individual members. An HMO usually offers a limited number of doctors and hospitals that the plan will cover, with the member typically responsible for paying out-of-pocket for services not covered by the plan.


Health plans are categorized by their payment model: traditional health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs). Here’s a look at the key differences between HMOs and PPOs:

1. Coverage. HMOs generally provide more comprehensive coverage than PPOs. This may include more procedures and medications, as well as broader hospital and doctor networks.

2. Fees. HMOs typically have lower fees than PPOs, although this varies depending on the plan.

3. Network options. Some HMOs offer more network options than PPOs, such as being able to see specialists in-network or using preferred pharmacy networks.

4. Renewal policies. Most HMOs have membership renewal policies that are typically automatic unless you notify the company in advance of your departure or change of status. With PPOs, you typically have more control over when your coverage expires and must renew annually or semi-annually.

What are the Benefits of an HMO?

The main benefits of an HMO are that they offer a contracted, comprehensive set of medical services. This means that you are guaranteed to be treated by the same doctor and hospital staff every time you visit. In addition, an HMO typically offers a wider range of medical services than a traditional health plan, including specialty care. Finally, an HMO may provide lower premiums than a traditional health plan.

What are the Disadvantages of an HMO?

There are a few key differences between an HMO and a PPO, the most important of which is that with an HMO, you are essentially locked into the provider’s network. This means that if you need to see a doctor outside of the network, you may not be able to find a doctor who participates in your plan, or you may have to pay a higher co-pay than usual. Additionally, HMOs generally have more restrictions on coverage than PPOs do. For example, many HMOs do not cover preventative care services like screenings for cancer or cholesterol, and they may also exclude certain types of treatments, such as radiation therapy or surgery.

Should You Join an HMO?

HMOs have been around for decades and offer comprehensive health insurance plans that typically have lower premiums than traditional plans. The benefits of joining an HMO are that you’ll be covered for a wide variety of health services, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription drugs. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before signing up.

First, make sure you’re eligible for coverage. HMOs typically require that members have health insurance through their jobs or through other government-sponsored programs like Medicare or Medicaid. Second, be aware of the network provider restrictions. Most HMOs restrict the providers that they will cover. This means that you may not be able to see certain doctors or receive certain treatments if they’re not affiliated with the HMO’s network. Finally, be aware of any pre-existing conditions restrictions. Many HMOs only cover members who don’t have any pre-existing conditions, which can limit your choice of doctors and hospitals.


Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) are a type of health insurance that provides comprehensive coverage for preventive care, hospitalization and other medical services. This type of coverage is usually provided by employers or insurers who contract with HMOs to provide their employees and members with this type of coverage. The main difference between an HMO and a PPO is that an HMO typically offers more restrictive coverage choices than a PPO does.