Confronted with the options of PPOs, HMOs and EPOs, choosing a health plan
can seem like digging into a bowl of alphabet soup. But it doesn't have to
be so confusing. The Internet offers a wide range of sites that
can help you make sense of it all.
"The Web expands the information available about plans," said Carolyn
Clancy, M.D., director of the Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness
Research, a division of the government's Agency for Healthcare Research and
Quality. Dr. Clancy cites two major challenges: determining the quality of a plan and
weighing what features are most relevant to you.
When possible, seek information from unbiased third parties,
such as government agencies or independent rating groups. To narrow down your options, follow these strategies:
Assess Your Health Needs
The search for insurance should start with your own needs.
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, offers a
Choosing a Health
Plan page that presents
questions you should consider. If you have a chronic condition or costly
medications, for instance, those should factor into your decision.
The Web sites for individual providers can also help you
sort out differences.
"Many plans are accredited by the NCQA, so if a plan does well, it would
likely advertise that on its site," said Dr. Clancy.