PPO is short for Preferred Provider Organization. PPOs are health care plans that offer the convenience of choosing a doctor or hospital. PPO plans also place fewer restrictions on going to doctors outside the network. The plan covers out-of-network costs but provides less coverage.
A benefit of a PPO plan is that the patient does not have to consult a primary care doctor before seeing a specialist. This restriction exists on an HMO, or Health Maintenance Organization, plan. HMO plans are the other option consumers have to choose from when selecting a health care plan.
PPO plans tend to have more expensive premiums and higher deductibles compared to HMO plans.