Find out if it is an indemnity health plan or a managed care system. With indemnity health plans, also known as fee-for-service plans, you pay a percentage of the medical costs, and the insurance company pays the remaining percentage. Typically, you are allowed to choose your own doctors.
With managed care -- meaning either a health maintenance organization (HMO) or a preferred provider organization (PPO) -- you have minimal out-of-pocket expenses. With an HMO, you or your employer pays a fixed monthly fee for health-care services, but you can only go to a doctor who is under contract with the HMO. Through a PPO, you or your employer gets a discount if you use physicians within the plan. You may go to a doctor outside the PPO system, but you'll pay more.