We get it—health insurance can be confusing and overwhelming.
As a student, you’re probably aware of your university’s health insurance requirements, which are in place to make sure you are covered in the event of an unexpected illness or injury. However, you may have questions like, “How do I know what my plan covers?”, or “How much will I pay out-of-pocket if I need to use my insurance?’”
In your health insurance documents, there will be a table that outlines the different benefits covered, as well as how much money the insurance company may pay towards that benefit. Here is an example of the schedule of benefits for Patriot Exchange Program, one of our most popular international student insurance plans. This can help you understand the deductible, coinsurance, or copay that you could expect to pay if you are sick or injured, on top of the initial or monthly premium.
Insurance premium is the amount of money you pay to have insurance, or access to care and assistance with covered medical costs. If the school you’re enrolling at has a sponsored health insurance program, the cost to opt-in would be the premium. Among other potential benefits, lower premiums may be available to you if you choose to waive the school-sponsored plan and purchase your own international student insurance plan.
The deductible you choose is the amount of money you must pay before the insurance company begins to share responsibility for your healthcare costs. For example, if your deductible is $500, then you are responsible for the first $500 of all covered medical expenses. Higher deductibles usually mean lower premiums. Once your deductible is met, coinsurance kicks in.
Coinsurance is the percentage of costs that you share with your health insurance company after you have met your deductible. For example, if you have an 80/20 plan, then, after meeting your deductible, your health insurance provider pays 80% of the cost, and you pay the remaining 20% up to your maximum limit.
Separate from your deductible, and any coinsurance, your copay is the set price that you pay when you visit the doctor or need a medication – a small portion of the bill. It is the same fixed amount no matter how often you use the plan. This varies by policy and can change if you seek treatment out of your provider network. Prescriptions can also have copays.
This can seem like a lot of additional costs, on top of your premium, which is why you should compare plans carefully.
You may be tempted to choose the lowest initial premium, but choosing a plan with a high deductible, coinsurance percentage, or copay could be a costly decision in the long-run.
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