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What is a health insurance deductible?

Learn more about how health insurance deductibles work.

What you need to know

The best health insurance company for you depends on two things: your budget and your preferences.

All health insurance companies and plans are federally mandated by the Affordable Care Act to cover ten essential benefits, which include preventative care, emergency services, and hospitalization. All health insurance companies and plans are also required to adhere to the same consumer protections, also laid out by the Affordable Care Act. This means that you can trust that each health insurance company is held to the same standard, making it much easier to compare on price and individual preference.

When comparing health insurance plans, many people look at the base monthly price only. This monthly cost, called the premium, only represents one of the expenses that contributes to how much you'll spend on health care in a given month.

Other expenses, like your health insurance plan's deductible and the copay and coinsurance costs, directly contribute to how much you'll be spending overall on health care. Typically, a plan with a lower monthly premium will have a higher deductible, copay, and coinsurance percentage, which increases the amount you'll spend out-of-pocket for health care services.

When choosing a health insurance company, make sure to look closely at these costs. If you plan on utilizing your health insurance plan frequently – because you're managing a chronic condition or otherwise – the least expensive plan may not be the plan with the lowest monthly premium.

The other thing to consider when choosing a health insurance company and plan are your preferences when it comes to doctors and prescription. Are there certain doctors you want to make sure are in your plan's network? Particular prescriptions? Plans that cover doctors and prescriptions you need may be more valuable to you than plans that don't.

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