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A visual representation of a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) with doctors, hospitals, and patients connecting freely, symbolizing the flexibility and choice offered by this type of health insurance plan.

Key Takeaways:

  • PPOs offer flexibility and choice in healthcare providers, but often come with higher premiums.
  • You can visit doctors outside the PPO network, but you'll usually pay more out of pocket.
  • PPOs are ideal for those who prioritize choice and don't mind paying more for that freedom.

How Does a PPO Work?

With a PPO, you have the freedom to visit any doctor or hospital you want, both in and out of the plan's preferred network. When you choose in-network providers, you'll typically pay less out of pocket.

This is because your PPO has negotiated lower rates with those providers. If you go out of network, you'll generally have higher out-of-pocket costs, but your PPO will still provide some coverage.

What are the Benefits of a PPO?

  • Flexibility: You can see any doctor or specialist you want, without referrals.
  • No Primary Care Physician Requirement: You don't need to designate a primary care physician (PCP) and get referrals for specialists.
  • Larger Network: PPOs typically have larger networks than other plans, giving you more choices.
  • Out-of-Network Coverage: You still have coverage if you choose to see out-of-network providers, although at a higher cost.

What are the Drawbacks of a PPO?

  • Higher Premiums: PPOs often have higher monthly premiums than other types of plans.
  • More Out-of-Pocket Costs for Out-of-Network Care: You'll pay more when seeing out-of-network providers.
  • May Require Filing Claims: If you see an out-of-network provider, you may need to file claims yourself to get reimbursed.

Who Should Consider a PPO?

PPOs are a good fit if you:

  • Value flexibility and choice in healthcare providers.
  • Don't want to be restricted to a specific network.
  • Are willing to pay higher premiums for greater flexibility.
  • Frequently travel and want the option to see doctors outside your area.

How Do I Choose a PPO?

When selecting a PPO, consider:

  • Monthly premiums
  • Deductibles
  • Copayments and coinsurance
  • The provider network (which doctors and hospitals are in-network)
  • Coverage for specific services or treatments you need
  • Prescription drug coverage

For those concerned about cost, our licensed insurance agency can help find insurance options to lower the cost or to cover the procedure.


This guide has provided a comprehensive overview of Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs). For those seeking to deepen their understanding, we recommend exploring our guide on Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), which dives into this alternative plan type and its unique characteristics.

If seeking a licensed professional, consider our services. Our insurance advisors and client support team are here to assist you with your insurance needs.


What is the difference between a PPO and an HMO?

A PPO allows you to see any doctor or hospital, while an HMO requires you to stay within a network and get referrals for specialists. PPOs offer more flexibility but typically have higher premiums.

Do I need a referral to see a specialist with a PPO?

No, you do not need a referral to see a specialist with a PPO. You can choose any specialist you want, whether in or out of the network.

What is the difference between in-network and out-of-network providers in a PPO plan?

In-network providers have a contract with your PPO, offering services at a discounted rate. Out-of-network providers are not contracted and may charge higher rates, resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs for you.

Are PPOs more expensive than other health insurance plans?

PPOs often have higher monthly premiums than other types of plans like HMOs, but they offer greater flexibility and choice in providers.