Health Insurance Deductibles

By HealthPriceCompare - May 28, 2023

A health insurance deductible is the amount of money that a policyholder must pay out of pocket for covered medical services before their insurance plan starts to pay for medical expenses. Deductibles vary depending on the insurance plan and can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per year. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible, you must pay $1,000 of eligible medical expenses before your insurance coverage begins.

The frequency with which consumers meet their deductibles depends on several factors, including:

Healthcare needs: Consumers with ongoing health conditions or those who require frequent medical services are more likely to meet their deductible faster than those who are generally healthy and require minimal medical care.

Insurance plan design: Some insurance plans have lower deductibles but higher monthly premiums, while others have higher deductibles and lower premiums. Plans with higher deductibles require consumers to pay more out of pocket before meeting their deductible.

Timing of medical expenses: If a consumer incurs significant medical expenses early in the year, they are more likely to meet their deductible sooner. Conversely, if they have few medical expenses, they may not reach their deductible at all or may do so later in the year.

Utilization of in-network providers: Health insurance plans often have networks of preferred providers. If you are in a health insurance plan with minimal cost-sharing responsibilities, seeking care from in-network provider typically leads to lower out-of-pocket costs.

What Else You Should Know

Annual Reset: Deductibles typically follow an annual cycle. This means that at the start of each new year, your deductible resets, and you must meet it again before your insurance coverage kicks in. Any amount you paid towards your deductible in the previous year does not carry over.

Services Applied to Deductible: Not all medical services are subject to the deductible. Some preventive care services, such as vaccinations and annual check-ups, may be covered by insurance without requiring you to meet the deductible. However, services like specialist visits, hospital stays, and diagnostic tests are generally applied to the deductible.

Co-insurance and Copayments: It is important to note that meeting the deductible does not necessarily mean all subsequent medical expenses are fully covered by insurance. After meeting the deductible, consumers may still be responsible for co-insurance or copayments. Co-insurance is the percentage of the cost you share with your insurance company, while copayments are fixed amounts you pay for each visit or service. These continue until you reach your plan's out-of-pocket maximum.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum: The out-of-pocket maximum is the maximum amount you will have to pay for covered medical services in a given year. Once you reach this limit, your insurance typically covers 100% of eligible expenses for the remainder of the year.

It is important to review the specifics of your health insurance plan to fully understand how your deductible works. Refer to your plan documents, Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), or contact your insurance provider for detailed information on your deductible amount, in-network providers, covered services, and other plan details.