Health care ABCs

Many people are confused by health insurance terminology. To help you navigate your way through this year’s open season benefits enrollment period, here are some important definitions:

• Copayment: This is a fixed amount paid for certain covered health care services.

• Coinsurance: This is similar to a copayment but refers to a percentage paid for some covered health care services rather than a fixed amount paid.

• Deductible: This is the amount you pay for covered health care services before your health plan starts to pay. You can find the amount, and how much you’ve paid toward it, through your health insurance plan’s web portal.

• Flexible spending account: This is an account set up to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses on a pretax basis. There are also flexible spending accounts designed specifically for dependent care.

• High-deductible health plan: This is a plan with a higher deductible than a traditional insurance plan, but usually with lower monthly premiums. It often has an accompanying health savings account.

• Preventive services: This describes routine health care that includes screenings, patient counseling and vaccinations, such as flu shots. Preventive services are covered at 100 percent under your health plan if you go to an in-network provider.

The Open Season LiteBlue page has additional information to help you better understand your plan options, including a link to a comparison tool from Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.

Open season runs through Monday, Dec. 12.


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