Confused by all of the health insurance jargon? This dictionary will help you sort it out.
Capitation: Capitation represents a set dollar limit that you or your employer pay to a health maintenance organization (HMO), regardless of how much you use (or don’t use) the services offered by the health maintenance providers. (“Providers” is a term used for health professionals who provide care. Usually providers refer to doctors or hospitals. Sometimes the term also refers to nurse practitioners, chiropractors and other health professionals who offer specialized services.)
Carrier: The insurance company or HMO offering a health plan.
Case Management: Case management is a system embraced by employers and insurance companies to ensure that individuals receive appropriate, reasonable health care services.
Certificate of Insurance: The printed description of the benefits and coverage provisions forming the contract between the carrier and the customer. Discloses what it covered, what is not, and dollar limits.
Claim: A request by an individual (or his or her provider) to an individual’s insurance company for the insurance company to pay for services obtained from a health care professional.
Co-Insurance: Co-insurance refers to money that an individual is required to pay for services, after a deductible has been paid. In some health care plans, co-insurance is called “co-payment.” Co-insurance is often specified by a percentage. For example, the employee pays 20 percent toward the charges for a service and the employer or insurance company pays 80 percent.
Co-Payment: Co-payment is a predetermined (flat) fee that an individual pays for health care services, in addition to what the insurance covers. For example, some HMOs require a $20 “co-payment” for each office visit, regardless of the type or level of services provided during the visit. Co-payments are not usually specified by percentages.
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act): Federal legislation that lets you, if you work for an insured employer group of 20 or more employees, continue to purchase health insurance for up to 18 months if you lose your job or your coverage is otherwise terminated. For more information, visit the Department of Labor.
Credit for Prior Coverage: This is something that may or may not apply when you switch employers or insurance plans. A pre-existing condition waiting period met under while you were under an employer’s (qualifying) coverage can be honored by your new plan, if any interruption in the coverage between the two plans meets state guidelines.