Here are some of the most common terms you will encounter when selecting and using health insurance:

Premium: the amount you and/or your employer pays for health insurance. It can be paid monthly, quarterly or yearly.

Deductible: the amount of money that must be paid out-of-pocket for a health care service before an insurer will start to pay

Co-payment: fixed amount you pay when receiving a health service, such as a doctor visit or to receive prescription drugs

Co-insurance: the percentage an insured person pays for a service after a deductible is met. Your insurance pays the rest.

Network: the hospitals, physicians and other health care providers your insurance has contracted with to provide health care services.

HMO (health maintenance organizations): managed care plans that have a closed network of providers you can visit. Most HMOs require you to have a primary care physician who will refer you to a specialist if needed.

PPO (preferred provider organization): managed care plans that allow you to visit any doctor from a preferred network of hospitals and physicians. Under PPOs, you can visit a doctor out-of-network, but you will be charged more.

Out-of-network: health care providers not contracted to provide services to customers on a particular health plan

Out-patient: a person who visits a hospital or clinic for medical services but does not require an overnight stay

Inpatient: a person who is admitted to a hospital for at least one night for ongoing care

Mental health care: the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses, such as depression

More Complete Lists of Health Insurance Terms

Original post by the Center for Advancing Health. Updated by the GW Cancer Institute January 2016.