Skip to main content


Terms and definitions to help you better understand health insurance.

Allowance amount

Maximum amount on which payment is based for covered health care services. This may be called “eligible expense,” “payment allowance" or "negotiated rate." If your provider charges more than the allowed amount, you may have to pay the difference.


A statement from a patient or health care provider presented to an insurance company for payment for services performed.


This is the share of the cost you pay for health care received after you meet your deductible. If your plan has a 20% coinsurance, your insurance may pay 80% of the cost and you might pay 20%. But once you meet your out-of-pocket maximum, your insurance pays 100% of qualifying costs.


A flat dollar amount you pay for some covered services. Copay amounts can vary by plan, health care service, and the type of doctor you see.


The amount you must pay for covered medical care before your health insurance starts to share the cost. Deductibles vary by health plan. Not everything you pay for, including your premiums and copays, count toward your deductible. You will have to continue to pay for certain things, such as copays or coinsurance even after you meet your deductible. Learn more and see easy-to-follow examples of how a deductible works.

EOB (Explanation of Benefits)

A report or statement to a beneficiary, from a third-party payer, after a claim has been reported, indicating the benefits and charges covered or not covered by the plan. For more information, visit our EOB page.

Individual (embedded) deductible

For a family medical plan (2 or more members), there are two deductible amounts; individual and family. The individual deductible is embedded in the family deductible, so no one family member can contribute more than the individual amount toward the family deductible. Once a member meets the individual deductible, that member would begin paying only copays and/or coinsurance (for their services only) even though the family deductible may not have been met yet.

Out-of-pocket maximum

The most you pay in a year before your health insurance pays 100% of qualifying costs. These limits put a cap on health care costs if you ever have a major illness or injury. This limit generally does not include things like your premium or non-covered services. If your plan has an individual (embedded) out-of-pocket maximum, each family member is capped at the individual out-of-pocket maximum, meaning no one family member can exceed that amount in payments during the plan year.


A decision by your health insurer or plan that a health care service, treatment plan, prescription drug, or durable medical equipment is medically necessary. Sometimes called prior authorization, prior approval, or precertification. Your health insurance or plan may require preauthorization for certain services before you receive them, except in an emergency. Preauthorization isn’t a promise your health insurance or plan will cover the cost.


This is your monthly bill for insurance. You pay it whether or not you see a doctor or get any medical care. It is the same amount every month during the term of your plan.


When one health care professional recommends the patient see another health care professional for further diagnosis and/or treatment. The second health care professional may often be a specialist in a certain area. Your plan may or may not require a referral. 

Evidence of Coverage (EOC)

The Evidence of Coverage (EOC) is an in-depth explanation of your plan benefits. The EOC explains how to use your plan, its benefits, how much the plan covers, and how much you pay.