For a deeper dive into each term, and how they could apply to your specific situation, visit HealthCare.gov
Affordable Care Act (ACA)
The affordable care act (ACA) is a law which was enacted in 2010 to make healthcare affordable to more people. It’s sometimes known as ACA, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or “Obamacare”.
A job-based health plan covering only the employee that costs 9.83% or less of the employee’s household income. If a job-based plan is “affordable,” and meets the “minimum value” standard, you're not eligible for a premium tax credit if you buy a Marketplace insurance plan instead.
A cap on the benefits your insurance company will pay in a year while you're enrolled in a particular health insurance plan. These caps are sometimes placed on particular services such as prescriptions or hospitalizations.
Annual limits may be placed on the dollar amount of covered services or on the number of visits that will be covered for a particular service. After an annual limit is reached, you must pay all associated health care costs for the rest of the year.
When a provider bills you for the difference between the provider’s charge and the allowed amount. For example, if the provider’s charge is $100 and the allowed amount is $70, the provider may bill you for the remaining $30. A preferred provider may not balance bill you for covered services.
A year of benefits coverage under an individual health insurance plan. The benefit year for plans bought inside or outside the Marketplace begins January 1 of each year and ends December 31 of the same year. Your coverage ends December 31 even if your coverage started after January 1. Any changes to benefits or rates to a health insurance plan are made at the beginning of the calendar year.
The health care items or services covered under a health insurance plan. Covered benefits and excluded services are defined in the health insurance plan's coverage documents. In Medicaid or CHIP, covered benefits and excluded services are defined in state program rules.
The percentage of costs of a covered health care service you pay (20%, for example) after you've paid your deductible.
Coordination of Benefits
A way to figure out who pays first when 2 or more health insurance plans are responsible for paying the same medical claim.
Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR)
A discount that lowers the amount you have to pay for deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. In the Health Insurance Marketplace®, cost-sharing reductions are often called “extra savings.” If you qualify, you must enroll in a plan in the Silver category to get the extra savings.
Benefits that help pay for the cost of visits to a dentist for basic or preventive services, like teeth cleaning, X-rays, and fillings. In the Marketplace, dental coverage is available either as part of a comprehensive medical plan, or by itself through a "stand-alone" dental plan.
The amount you pay for covered health care services before your insurance plan starts to pay. With a $2,000 deductible, for example, you pay the first $2,000 of covered services yourself.
After you pay your deductible, you usually pay only a copayment or coinsurance for covered services. Your insurance company pays the rest.
Donut Hole, Medicare Prescription Drug
Most plans with Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) have a coverage gap (called a "donut hole").
This means that after you and your drug plan have spent a certain amount of money for covered drugs, you have to pay all costs out-of-pocket for your prescriptions up to a yearly limit. Once you have spent up to the yearly limit, your coverage gap ends and your drug plan helps pay for covered drugs again.
Employer or Union Retiree Plans
Plans that provide health and/or drug coverage to former employees or members, and, in some cases, their families. These plans are offered to people through their (or a spouse's) former employer or employee organization.
Many of these plans aren't legally required to meet many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including providing coverage for children up to age 26.
Essential Health Benefits
A set of 10 categories of services health insurance plans must cover under the Affordable Care Act. These include doctors’ services, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, prescription drug coverage, pregnancy and childbirth, mental health services, and more. Some plans cover more services.
Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP)
The Affordable Care Act requires certain employers with at least 50 full-time employees (or equivalents) to offer health insurance coverage to its full-time employees (and their dependents) that meets certain minimum standards set by the Affordable Care Act or to make a tax payment called the ESRP.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
A federal law that guarantees up to 12 weeks of job protected leave for certain employees when they need to take time off due to serious illness or disability, to have or adopt a child, or to care for another family member. When on leave under FMLA, you can continue coverage under your job-based plan.
Flexible Benefits Plan
A benefit program that offers employees a choice between various benefits including cash, life insurance, health insurance, vacations, retirement plans, and child care.
Although a common core of benefits may be required, you can choose how your remaining benefit dollars are to be allocated for each type of benefit from the total amount promised by the employer. Sometimes you can contribute more for additional coverage. Also known as a Cafeteria plan or IRS 125 Plan.
A list of prescription drugs covered by a prescription drug plan or another insurance plan offering prescription drug benefits. Also called a drug list.
Group Health Plan
In general, a health plan offered by an employer or employee organization that provides health coverage to employees and their families.
A requirement that health plans must permit you to enroll regardless of health status, age, gender, or other factors that might predict the use of health services. Except in some states, guaranteed issue doesn't limit how much you can be charged if you enroll.
A requirement that your health insurance issuer must offer to renew your policy as long as you continue to pay premiums. Except in some states, guaranteed renewal doesn't limit how much you can be charged if you renew your coverage.
High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)
A plan with a higher deductible than a traditional insurance plan. The monthly premium is usually lower, but you pay more health care costs yourself before the insurance company starts to pay its share (your deductible).
A high deductible plan (HDHP) can be combined with a health savings account (HSA), allowing you to pay for certain medical expenses with money free from federal taxes.
Legal entitlement to payment or reimbursement for your health care costs, generally under a contract with a health insurance company, a group health plan offered in connection with employment, or a government program like Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Health Plan Categories
Levels of plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace®: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Categories (sometimes called “metal levels”) are based on how you and your insurance plan split costs.
For each plan category, you’ll pay a different percentage of total yearly costs of your care, and your insurance company will pay the rest. Total costs include premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs like copayments and coinsurance.
A fixed amount (for example, $15) you pay for covered health care services to providers who contract with your health insurance or plan. In-network copayments usually are less than out-of-network copayments.
A non-profit entity in which the same people who own the company are insured by the company. Cooperatives can be formed at a national, state or local level, and can include doctors, hospitals and businesses as member-owners.
Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement
A type of Health Reimbursement Arrangement that reimburses medical expenses, like monthly premiums, and requires eligible employees and dependents to have individual health insurance coverage or Medicare Parts A (Hospital Insurance) and B (Medical Insurance) or Part C (Medicare Advantage) for each month they are covered by the individual coverage HRA.
Limited Cost Sharing Plan
A plan available to members of federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation shareholders regardless of income or eligibility for premium tax credits.
A cap on the total lifetime benefits you may get from your insurance company.
An insurance company may impose 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.
Large Group Health Plan
In general, a group health plan that covers employees of an employer that has 51 or more employees. In some states large groups are defined as 101 or more.
Insurance program that provides free or low-cost health coverage to some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Many states have expanded their Medicaid programs to cover all people below certain income levels.
A process used by insurance companies to try to figure out your health status when you're applying for health insurance coverage to determine whether to offer you coverage, at what price, and with what exclusions or limits.
Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI)
The figure used to determine eligibility for premium tax credits and other savings for Marketplace health insurance plans and for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). MAGI is adjusted gross income (AGI) plus these, if any: untaxed foreign income, non-taxable Social Security benefits, and tax-exempt interest.
A health plan that contracts with doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers to provide members of the plan with services and supplies at a discounted price.
Not Yet Accredited (Health Plan)
A plan that hasn't been given a "seal of approval" by an independent company to show it meets national quality standards for health plans. There are many reasons why a health plan may not be accredited.
For example, some plans have never gone through the accreditation process or have gone through the process with a different accrediting organization.
A fixed amount (for example, $30) you pay for covered health care services from providers who don't contract with your health insurance or plan. Out-of-network copayments usually are more than in-network copayments.
Original Medicare is a fee-for-service health plan that has two parts: Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). After you pay a deductible, Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amount, and you pay your share (coinsurance and deductibles).
The most you have to pay for covered services in a plan year. After you spend this amount on deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for in-network care and services, your health plan pays 100% of the costs of covered benefits.
Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP)
A program created by the Affordable Care Act to provide a health coverage option if you were uninsured for at least six months, had a pre-existing condition, and were denied coverage (or offered insurance without coverage of the pre-existing condition) by a private insurance company.
This program provided coverage until 2014 when access to affordable health insurance choices became available through the Health Insurance Marketplace®.
A 12-month period of benefits coverage under an individual health insurance plan. This 12-month period may not be the same as the calendar year. To find out when your policy year begins, you can check your policy documents or contact your insurer. (Note: In group health plans, this 12-month period is called a “plan year”).
Point of Service (POS) Plans
A type of plan in which you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that belong to the plan’s network. POS plans also require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor in order to see a specialist.
Small employers who don't offer group health coverage to their employees can help employees pay for medical expenses through a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA). If your employer offers you a QSEHRA, you can use it to help pay your household's health care costs (like your monthly premium) for qualifying health coverage.
Qualified Health Plan
An insurance plan that’s certified by the Health Insurance Marketplace®, provides essential health benefits, follows established limits on cost-sharing (like deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket maximum amounts), and meets other requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
All qualified health plans meet the Affordable Care Act requirement for having health coverage, known as “minimum essential coverage.”
Qualifying Health Coverage
Any health insurance that meets the Affordable Care Act requirement for coverage. If you have qualifying health coverage (or “minimum essential coverage” or “MEC”) you don’t have to pay the penalty for being uninsured through the 2018 plan year.
A process that allows state insurance departments to review rate increases before insurance companies can apply them to you.
A statistical process that takes into account the underlying health status and health spending of the enrollees in an insurance plan when looking at their health care outcomes or health care costs.
A reimbursement system that protects insurers from very high claims. It usually involves a third party paying part of an insurance company’s claims once they pass a certain amount. Reinsurance is a way to stabilize an insurance market and make coverage more available and affordable.
State Continuation Coverage
A state-based requirement similar to COBRA that applies to group health insurance policies of employers with fewer than 20 employees. In some states, state continuation coverage rules also apply to larger group insurance policies and add to COBRA protections.
For example, in some states, if you're leaving a job-based plan, you must be allowed to continue your coverage until you reach the age of Medicare eligibility.
Health coverage available at reduced or no cost for people with incomes below certain levels.
Examples of subsidized coverage include Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Marketplace insurance plans with premium tax credits are sometimes known as subsidized coverage too.
State Insurance Department
A state agency that regulates insurance and can provide information about health coverage in its state.
A health care program for active-duty and retired uniformed services members and their families.
Total Cost Estimate (for health coverage)
The total amount you may have to pay for health plan coverage, which is estimated before you actually have the coverage and have health expenses under the coverage.
UCR (Usual, Customary, and Reasonable)
The amount paid for a medical service in a geographic area based on what providers in the area usually charge for the same or similar medical service. The UCR amount sometimes is used to determine the allowed amount.
Health care or services provided by hospitals or health care providers that don't get reimbursed. Often uncompensated care arises when people don't have insurance and cannot afford to pay the cost of care.
Care for an illness, injury or condition serious enough that a reasonable person would seek care right away, but not so severe it requires emergency room care.
Value-Based Purchasing (VBP)
Linking provider payments to improved performance by health care providers. This form of payment holds health care providers accountable for both the cost and quality of care they provide. It attempts to reduce inappropriate care and to identify and reward the best-performing providers.
A health benefit that at least partially covers vision care, like eye exams and glasses. All plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace® include vision coverage for children. Only some plans include vision coverage for adults.
If adult vision coverage is important to you, check the details of any plan you’re considering.
Waiting Period (Job-based coverage)
The time that must pass before coverage can become effective for an employee or dependent who is otherwise eligible for coverage under a job-based health plan.
Well-baby and Well-child Visits
Routine doctor visits for comprehensive preventive health services that occur when a baby is young and annual visits until a child reaches age 21. Services include physical exam and measurements, vision and hearing screening, and oral health risk assessments.
A program intended to improve and promote health and fitness that's usually offered through the work place, although insurance plans can offer them directly to their enrollees.
The program allows your employer or plan to offer you premium discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives to participate. Some examples of wellness programs include programs to help you stop smoking, diabetes management programs, weight loss programs, and preventative health screenings.
Zero Cost Sharing Plan
A plan available to members of federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation shareholders whose income is between 100% and 300% of the federal poverty level and qualify for premium tax credits.
Original source: HealthCare.gov