As you begin to use your health coverage, here are a few terms you may see on your insurance bill:
Allowed Amount: Maximum amount on which payment is based for covered health care services. This may be called “eligible expense,” “payment allowance” or “negotiated rate.” If your provider charges more than the allowed amount, you may have to pay the difference.
Balance Billing: When a provider bills you for the difference between the provider’s charge and the allowed amount. For example, if the provider’s charge is $100 and the allowed amount is $70, the provider may bill you for the remaining $30. A preferred provider may not balance bill you for covered services.
Claim: A request for payment that you or your health care provider submits to your health insurer when you get items or services you think are covered.
Cost Sharing: The share of costs covered by your insurance that you pay out of your own pocket. This term generally includes deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, or similar charges, but it doesn’t include premiums, balance billing amounts for non-network providers, or the cost of non-covered services. Cost sharing in Medicaid and CHIP also includes premiums.
Coordination of Benefits: A way to figure out who pays first when 2 or more health insurance plans are responsible for paying the same medical claim.
Copayment: A fixed amount (for example, $15) you pay for a covered health care service, usually when you get the service. The amount can vary by the type of covered health care service.
Deductible: The amount you owe for health care services your health insurance or plan covers before your health insurance or plan begins to pay. For example, if your deductible is $1,000, your plan won’t pay anything until you’ve met your $1,000 deductible for covered health care services subject to the deductible. The deductible may not apply to all services.
Fee For Service: A method in which doctors and other health care providers are paid for each service performed. Examples of services include tests and office visits.
In-network Coinsurance: The percent (for example, 20%) you pay of the allowed amount for covered health care services to providers who contract with your health insurance or plan. In-network coinsurance usually costs you less than out-of-network coinsurance.
In-network Copayment: A fixed amount (for example, $15) you pay for covered health care services to providers who contract with your health insurance or plan. In-network copayments usually are less than out-of-network copayments.
Non-preferred provider: A provider who doesn’t have a contract with your health insurer or plan to provide services to you. You’ll pay more to see a non-preferred provider. Check your policy to see if you can go to all providers who have contracted with your health insurance or plan, or if your health insurance or plan has a “tiered” network and you must pay extra to see some providers.
Out-of-Network Copayment: A fixed amount (for example, $30) you pay for covered health care services from providers who don’t contract with your health insurance or plan. Out-of-network copayments usually are more than in-network copayments.
Out-of-pocket maximum/limit: The most you pay during a policy period (usually one year) before your health insurance or plan starts to pay 100% for covered essential health benefits. This limit must include deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, or similar charges and any other expenditure required of an individual which is a qualified medical expense for the essential health benefits. This limit does not have to count premiums, balance billing amounts for non-network providers and other out-of-network cost-sharing, or spending for non-essential health benefits.
The maximum out-of-pocket cost limit for any individual Marketplace plan for 2016 can be no more than $6,600 for an individual plan and $13,200 for a family plan.
Out-of-Pocket Costs: Your expenses for medical care that aren’t reimbursed by insurance. Out-of-pocket costs include deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments for covered services plus all costs for services that aren’t covered.
Out-of-Network Coinsurance: The percentage (for example, 40%) you pay of the allowed amount for covered health care services to providers who don’t contract with your health insurance or plan. Out-of-network coinsurance usually costs you more than in-network coinsurance.
Out-of-Pocket Estimate: An estimate of the amount that you may have to pay on your own for health care or prescription drug costs. The estimate is made before your health plan has processed a claim for that service.
Premium: The amount that must be paid for your health insurance or plan. You and/or your employer usually pay it monthly, quarterly or yearly.
Total Cost Estimate (for health coverage): The total amount you may have to pay for health plan coverage, which is estimated before you actually have the coverage and have health expenses under the coverage.
UCR (Usual, Customary, and Reasonable): The amount paid for a medical service in a geographic area based on what providers in the area usually charge for the same or similar medical service. The UCR amount sometimes is used to determine the allowed amount.