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What is a Health Insurance Deductible?

Meredith Miller | Published: June 14, 2018

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Health insurance is important coverage people need when they visit a doctor's office or hospital after becoming sick or injured. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act makes being covered with a qualified health plan a requirement unless you qualify for an exemption. Your health coverage will keep you protected from high medical costs, but there are still out-of-pocket payments you will have to make, including you health deductible.

Your Health Insurance Deductible

A health plan will cover your medical costs, but policyholders must pay out a deductible before that coverage begins. Deductibles are different than the monthly premiums you pay to stay covered. A health plan premium is an amount you pay for the annual cost of coverage. Policyholders will also need to pay a certain amount of medical costs out of pocket.

A health insurance deductible can be low or high depending on the health plan you choose. Health plans will cover certain preventative costs before the deductible has been met. Once the deductible has been paid, policyholders will pay a copay or a certain percentage of the medical expense known as coinsurance. 

What is Preventative Care?

It's important for people to receive preventative care to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Preventative care is one of the best ways to identify health risks and treat medical problems before they become severe. Most health plans cover preventative care before the deductible has been met.

The most common preventative care expense is an annual exam. Preventative care covers a variety of screenings including blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Women qualify for preventative care services such as well-woman exams and sexually transmitted disease screenings. Preventative care also covers immunization vaccines for children.

Benefits of a Low Deductible?

Some people might benefit from a health plan with a low health insurance deductible. Policyholders will pay a higher premium, but their coverage will begin sooner. This is an excellent option for someone with a chronic illness.

People with who need frequent specialist and hospital visits can save money on a low deductible health plan. A low deductible plan might also be a good fit for someone involved in physical therapy.

Benefits of a High Health Deductible?

A high health insurance deductible plan might be a better choice for a healthy person with few medical problems. Policyholders with this type of insurance plan often enjoy a low annual premium, but they usually pay high out of pocket costs. This isn't a bad option for someone that doesn't visit the doctor very much. Many preventative care services such as annual exams are covered before the deductible has been paid. It's important to remember that other medical costs will be paid out of pocket until the deductible has been met.

Some people with a high deductible health insurance plan through their employer might qualify for a health savings account. Employers often contribute to employee health savings accounts. Policyholders can also make personal contributions to their account. It's an excellent way to prepare for an unexpected medical emergency.

Individual and Family Deductibles

It's important to consider all your health plan options when you need coverage for family members. Individual plans require that each person meet the deductible before their coverage begins. This might be ideal for a single person or a couple with no children.

A family plan covers several people under one deductible. Members on a family plan are not required to meet an individual deductible. Couples with several children can save a great deal of money when they purchase a health plan with a family deductible.

Whether you need an individual or family health plan, it's important to find affordable health insurance. The health deductible of your plan determines how much you will pay in out of pocket costs. Single people that don't get sick very often can benefit from a high deductible health insurance plan. People with chronic medical conditions and couples with children might be better off choosing a low deductible health plan. Try exploring your options to find a plan with a deductible that works for you.