Health Insurance Consumer Guide

Basic Insurance Terms

Accumulation Period: The period of time during which an insured person incurs eligible medical expenses toward the satisfaction of a deductible.

Claim: A bill for medical services rendered, typically submitted to the insurance company by a healthcare provider.


Cost-sharing:
Health care provider charges for which a patient is responsible under the terms of a health plan. Common forms of cost-sharing include deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments. Balance-billed charges from out-of-pocket physicians are not considered cost-sharing.

Co-payment: A specific charge that your health insurance plan may require that you pay for a specific medical service or supply, also referred to as a “co-pay.” For example, your health insurance plan may require a $15 co-payment for an office visit or brand-name prescription drug, after which the insurance company often pays the remainder of the charges.

Deductible: A specific dollar amount that your health insurance company may require that you pay out-of-pocket each year before your health insurance plan begins to make payments for claims. Not all health insurance plans require a deductible. As a general rule (though there are many exceptions), HMO plans typically do not require a deductible, while most Indemnity and PPO plans do

Group: A number of individuals covered under a single health insurance contract, usually a group of employees.

Network: A “Network” plan is a variation on a PPO plan. With a Network plan you’ll need to get your medical care from doctors or hospitals in the insurance company’s network if you want your claims paid at the highest level. You will probably not be required to coordinate your care through a single primary care physician, as you would with an HMO, but it’s up to you to make sure that the health care providers you visit participate in the network. Services rendered by out of network providers may not be covered or may be paid at a lower level.

Premium: The total amount paid to the insurance company for health insurance coverage. This is typically a monthly charge. Within the context of group health insurance coverage, the premium is paid in whole or in part by the employer on behalf of the employee or the employee’s dependents.