Out-of-Pocket Maximum Explained

Medical bills can be a huge source of stress. They can seem like they are never ending, but there is actually a limit on how much you can spend on out-of-pocket healthcare costs. The out-of-pocket maximum, which is the annual limit that you are required to pay for covered health services, is your financial saving grace. Each health insurance plan has different out-of-pocket maximums. Understanding yours will help you get a better handle on how much you will be paying out-of-pocket with your policy. 

What Is an Out-of-Pocket Maximum?caucasian mans hand pointing at the end of a br that says maximum

An out-of-pocket maximum is the amount that you will have to pay for covered health services. Once you reach that amount, your insurance will pay for all covered services. All copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance count towards your out-of-pocket maximum. However, your  monthly premium payments do not go towards your out-of-pocket maximum. 

How It Works

If you need a medical procedure, generally you and your  insurance company will each pay a portion of the cost. You will pay enough to meet your annual deductible, and your insurance company will pay for the rest of the procedure, unless you have to pay coinsurance as part of your policy. If your plan does require you to pay coinsurance then you will also have to pay 20% (usually) of the cost of the procedure, even after meeting your deductible.

After you have met your deductible, you will continue to pay copays and coinsurance until you meet your out-of-pocket maximum. After you meet your maximum, insurance will then pay 100% of any medical costs. You will not have to pay for copays or coinsurance after meeting your maximum. 

calculator on paper with a pen sitting on top of it in the paper.
After you have met your deductible, you will continue to pay copays and coinsurance until you meet your out-of-pocket maximum.

Here’s an example to illustrate how out-of-pocket maximums work. Let’s say Mary has a health insurance plan with a $2,000 deductible, a 20% coinsurance requirement for all care after meeting the deductible, and a $5,000 out-of-pocket maximum. She has to have surgery and the total hospital bill is $20,000. The costs will break down like this:

  • Mary will pay her $2,000 deductible, leaving $18,000 of the bill. 
  • Her coinsurance requirement is 20% of the $18,000, which is $5400. But because Mary’s plan has an out-of-pocket maximum, she and her insurance company will end up each paying part of this cost.
  • Mary has already paid $2,000 to meet her deductible, and her out-of-pocket maximum is $5,000 so instead of owing $5,400 in coinsurance payments, she only owes $3,000 ($2,000 deductible + $3,000 coinsurance = $5,000 maximum out-of-pocket payment). 
  • Her insurance company will now cover the remaining $13,000 of the cost of the procedure.

Do All Plans Have a Maximum?

All plans that meet ACA standards have out-of-pocket maximums. For 2020, that number is $8,2000 for individuals and $16,400 for families. Some plans may have a lower maximum, but none will be higher than those amounts. Plans with higher monthly premiums generally have lower out-of-pocket maximums, while plans with  lower monthly premium plans, like  catastrophic or high-deductible health plans, have higher out-of-pocket maximums. 

In order to find the right plan for your needs and budget, you have to take into account everything that it has to offer, including things like out-of-pocket maximums. Doing all the research alone is time-consuming and can cause confusion and missed opportunities. EZ will make the process quick and painless; we’ll explain everything clearly, give you real-world examples of how the plan would work for you, compare quotes, and calculate costs for you. We will set you up with one agent that will help you find the right plan for your medical and financial needs. To start saving, enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to one of our licensed agents, call 888-350-1890.

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