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Question 3 of 7 in Basics
What types of group health insurance coverages are available?
Group health insurance makes individual coverages available on a group basis. A primary advantage is the purchasing power of the group that achieves reduced acquisition costs for the insurance company. The insurance company is then able to reduce the rate it charges to provide insurance for each individual member of the group. The Group is in a better position to bargain with the insurance company for additional benefits for its members. There are a variety of types of group health insurance plans, the major distinctions being the mechanism used for purchasing the insurance. Common varieties of group health insurance plans include:

1. Fully Insured Employer Group - The employer contracts directly with the insurance company to provide certificates to covered employees. Typical arrangement is either for major medical or health maintenance organization (HMO) coverages.

2. Small Employer Group - Insurance companies group certain industries together and then gather small employers together to form a larger group. These groupings enable the insurance company to better predict the cost of providing the insurance. The small employers can then get coverages otherwise not available unless charged a much higher rate. All the small employers get the same policy without deviation.

3. Large Employer Group - same as a fully insured employer group with direct contract between the insurance company and the employer to provide individual certificates to covered employees.

4. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) - a group program under which the organization provides a full range of medical services to participants. Participants are either assigned or select from a group of general practitioners, who then refer their patients to specialists when the need arises. Good generalized system of providing medical care which is marked by curtailment in selection by the individual participant of the health care provider who render services. Individual participants insured by an HMO are called “enrollees”.

5. Self-Funded ERISA - available to large groups. The group contracts with an insurance company or third-party administrator to handle the paperwork. The group pays for all costs associated with the operation of the insurance plan itself, along with the added cost for administration.

6. Association Group - similar to a fully insured employer group, the distinction being that instead of an employer, it is a different type of group, such as a credit card company offering insurance as a benefit to its cardholders or a church group offering insurance to its parishioners.

7. Group Managed Care - a long-term health insurance plan offered through the group or association.

8. Preferred Provider Organization – another kind of health care network (doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers) that contracts with health insurance companies.
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