Glossary of Terms
Affordable Care Act
A new, comprehensive law passed in 2010, aimed at reforming America’s health care system to improve access and affordability for more Americans.
The maximum amount a health care plan will reimburse a doctor or hospital for a given service.
The amount you are required to pay annually before reimbursement by your health care benefits plan begins.
The deductible requirement does not apply to preventive services.
An insurance plan may limit the dollar amount it will pay during one year for a certain treatment or service, or for all benefits provided in a year.
annual out-of-pocket maximum
The maximum amount, per year, you are required to pay out of your own pocket for covered health care services after the deductible and coinsurance requirements are met.
The health care items or services covered by an insurance plan. Your insurance plan may sometimes be referred to as a “benefit package.”
The health insurance exchange will include a catastrophic plan option. Catastrophic plans have lower premiums, but begin to pay only after you've first paid a certain amount for covered services, or just cover more expensive levels of care, like hospitalizations. Catastrophic plans are an option to consider for young adults and people for whom coverage would otherwise be unaffordable.
A form you or your doctor fill out and submit to your health care benefits plan for payment.
An itemized bill for services provided to a member.
A federal act (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) which requires group health care plans to allow employees and covered dependents to continue their group coverage for a stated period of time following a qualifying event which causes the loss of group health coverage. Qualifying events include reduced work hours, termination of employment, a child becoming an over-aged dependent, Medicare eligibility, death or divorce of a covered employee.
A percentage of a covered service that you are responsible for paying or the percentage paid by your plan.
A hospital that has contracted with a particular health care plan to provide hospital services to members of that plan.
A fixed dollar amount you are required to pay for covered services at the time you receive care.
The eligible person enrolled in the health care benefits plan and any enrolled eligible family members.
A service which is covered according to the terms in your health care benefits plan.
A fixed amount of the eligible expenses you are required to pay before reimbursement by your health plan begins.
An eligible person, other than the member (generally a spouse or child), who has health care benefits under the member's policy.
A list of preferred drugs chosen by a panel of doctors and pharmacists. Both brand and generic medications are included on the formulary.
effective date of coverage
The date your coverage begins. Please note: The effective date can also represent the date a change in your coverage took effect. If you have questions, please call the number on the back of your ID card for more information.
emergency medical care
Services provided for the initial outpatient treatment of an acute medical condition, usually in a hospital setting. Most health care plans have specific guidelines to define emergency medical care.
Starting in 2014, if an employer with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees doesn't provide affordable health insurance and an employee uses a tax credit to help pay for insurance through a Health Insurance Exchange, the employer must pay a fee to help cover the cost of tax credits.
essential health benefits
Some benefits will be included in every insurance plan. Beginning in 2014, most insurance plans you can choose from – whether you buy on the health insurance exchange or go directly to the insurance company of your choice – will include many benefits that are meant to make sure basic health concerns are covered.
Specific medical conditions or circumstances that are not covered under a health care plan.
Explanation of Benefits (EOB)
An EOB is created after a claim payment has been processed by your health care plan. It explains the actions taken on a claim such as the amount that will be paid, the benefit available, reasons for denying payment and the claims appeal process. EOBs are available both as a paper copy and online.
Health care coverage for a primary policyholder (called a "subscriber") and his or her spouse and any eligible dependents.
Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
A level of income issued annually by the Department of Health and Human Services – used to determine eligibility for certain programs and benefits. FPL will be used to determine the amount of tax credit you qualify for to offset the cost of purchasing health insurance.
A prescription drug that is the generic equivalent of a brand name drug listed on your health plan's formulary and costs less than the brand name drug.
A prescription drug which is the generic equivalent of a drug listed on your health plan's formulary.
grandfathered health plan
A health plan that was in place when the new health care law was passed into law. A grandfathered plan is exempt from some requirements of the new law. The grandfather rule enables businesses and families to keep the plan they have, if they wish to.
A group of people covered under the same health care plan and identified by their relation to the same employer or organization.
A requirement under the Affordable Care Act that health plans must permit you to enroll in some form of insurance coverage regardless of health status, age, gender or other factors.
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
An organization that provides health care coverage to its members through a network of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.
High Risk Pool Plan (State)
Plans that provide coverage if you have a serious health condition that prevents you from getting private insurance. The new law established the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. Some states also have their own high risk pool plan. In 2014 when guaranteed issue goes into effect, many states may choose to no longer offer a high risk insurance pool plan.
A federal law that outlines the rules and requirements employer-sponsored group insurance plans, insurance companies and managed care organizations must follow to provide health care insurance coverage for individuals and groups.
individual health insurance plan
Health care coverage for an individual with no covered dependents. Also knows as individual coverage.
Services provided by a physician or other health care provider with a contractual agreement with the insurance company and paid at a higher benefit level.
Services provided when a member is registered as a bed patient and is treated as such in a health care facility such as a hospital.
A cap on the total lifetime benefits you may get from your insurance company, either on all coverage or for a certain condition. A health plan may have a total lifetime dollar limit on benefits (like a $1 million lifetime cap) or limits on specific benefits (like a $200,000 lifetime cap on organ transplants or one gastric bypass per lifetime), or a combination of the two. After a lifetime limit is reached, the insurance plan will no longer pay for covered services. Under the new health care law, lifetime limits are no longer allowed in most cases.
A joint federal and state funded program that provides health care coverage for low-income children and families, and for certain aged and disabled individuals.
A licensed health care facility, program, agency, doctor or health professional that contracts with a health plan to deliver health care services to plan members.
The federal program established to provide health care coverage for eligible senior citizens and certain eligible disabled persons under age 65.
The person to whom health care coverage has been extended by the policyholder (generally their employer) or any of their covered family members. Sometimes referred to as the insured or insured person.
The group of doctors, hospitals and other medical care professionals that a managed care plan has contracted with to deliver medical services to its members.
A hospital that has not contracted with a particular health care plan to provide hospital services to members in that plan.
open enrollment period
The period of time set up to allow you to choose from available health insurance plans, usually once a year. The first open enrollment period for the new health insurance exchange begins in October 2013.
Services provided by doctors and hospitals who have not contracted with your health plan.
The maximum amount you have to pay for expenses covered under your health care plan, after any deductible is met, during a defined benefit period.
Treatment that is provided to a patient who is able to return home after care without an overnight stay in a hospital or other inpatient facility.
Participating Provider Option (PPO)
A health care plan that supplies services at a higher level of benefits when members use contracted health care providers. PPOs also provide coverage for services rendered by health care providers who are not part of the PPO network, however the plan member generally shares a greater portion of the cost for such services.
A condition, disability or illness that you have been treated for before applying for new health coverage.
The process by which a plan member or their doctor notifies the plan, before the member undergoes a course of care such as a hospital admission or a complex diagnostic test.
The ongoing amount that must be paid for your health insurance or plan. You and/or your employer usually pay it monthly, quarterly or yearly. The premium may not be the only amount you pay for insurance coverage. Typically, you will also have a co-payment or deductible amount in addition to your premium.
Prescription drugs must be ordered by a doctor and obtained at a pharmacy. They are reviewed and approved through a formal process set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
prescription drug list
A list of commonly prescribed drugs (also known as a drug formulary). Not all drugs listed in a plan's prescription drug list are automatically covered under that plan.
Routine health care that includes screenings, check-ups, and patient counseling to prevent illnesses, disease, or other health problems.
primary care physician (PCP)
The physician you choose to be your primary source for medical care. Your PCP coordinates all your medical care, including hospital admissions and referrals to specialists. Not all health plans require a PCP.
A licensed health care facility, program, agency, doctor or health professional that delivers health care services.
As applicable to HMO or point of service (POS) coverage, a written authorization from a member's primary care physician (PCP) to receive care from a different contracted doctor, specialist or facility.
A health care professional whose practice is limited to a certain branch of medicine such as specific procedures, age categories of patients, specific body systems or certain types of diseases.