What Are Marketplace Deductibles, Coinsurance, and Copayments?

TMA’s Education Campaign Returns With Answers to Questions    

About the ACA Marketplace 

 Aug. 13, 2014

Health insurance has its own language: deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, or copays. These are costs you as a patient have to pay — in addition to your premiums that you’ve already been paying — when you seek health care. Health insurance policies offered on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) health insurance marketplace are just like other health insurance policies.

Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) “Hey, Doc” education campaign explains these terms and more. You can find more marketplace questions answered by “
Hey, Doc” here.

What are deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments?

Deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments basically describe the costs you share with the insurance company and pay to physicians and other providers for your health care.

Let’s start with the deductible, because that’s the amount you typically have to pay first before your insurance starts to cover much of your health care costs. Say you have a $1,000 deductible for the year. That means you’re responsible for paying the first $1,000 of your medical expenses before the insurance company helps pick up the rest. You might “meet that deductible” (pay that part you’re responsible for) in one hospital stay, or you could meet it throughout the year in multiple doctor visits. Because your insurance policy covers one year at a time, you would meet that deductible once a year, and it resets when you renew your insurance. Depending on your plan, once you’ve met your deductible, your insurance will start to cover a greater portion of your medical expenses.

Which brings us to the coinsurance, which is different. Instead of a fixed amount, like the deductible, the coinsurance is the percentage of a particular medical cost that you are responsible for. Let’s say it costs $100 for an x-ray and your co-insurance is 20 percent. You would pay $20 of that cost, and your insurance would pay the rest, $80. Depending on your plan, that $20 could go towards your deductible, or sometimes the coinsurance won’t kick in until after you’ve met your entire deductible. And the coinsurance amount can vary depending on whether you receive medical services in or outside of your health plan’s network.

Lastly, each time you visit the doctor, you’ll typically pay what’s called a copayment or “copay.” It’s usually a small fixed fee, like $25, that you pay up front at each visit, not something you split with your insurance plan. It can also vary depending on the medical service.

But marketplace plans must cover certain preventive services, like screenings and immunizations, without making you meet your deductible, or pay coinsurance or copayments. That’s if you get those services in-network.

And keep in mind that the health care law puts a limit on your out-of-pocket medical expenses each year. Once you reach that limit, your insurance usually covers 100 percent of your medical expenses.

Watch a brief “Hey, Doc” video to learn more about these confusing terms.


Upcoming TMA “Hey, Doc” installments, and their release dates:

Aug. 20:   My Doctor Can’t Get a Straight Answer From My Insurance Company. How Do I Know If I Can Use My Insurance?   

Aug. 27:   What If My Doctor Isn't in My Marketplace Health Plan After All?

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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Contact: Pam Udall
phone:(512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807

Pam Udall  

Contact: Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320

Brent Annear  

Click here to follow TMA on Twitter. Or visit TMA on Facebook. 

Check out  MeAndMyDoctor.com for interesting and timely news on health care issues and policy. 


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