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Health Care Glossary of Terms


Affordable Care Act The health reform law passed in 2010 aimed at changing America's health care system to improve access and affordability for more Americans.

Annual Deductible The amount of eligible expenses you are required to pay annually before reimbursement by your health plan begins.

Annual Dollar Limit A cap on the benefits your insurance company will pay in a year while you're enrolled in a particular health insurance plan. Limits may be placed on particular services or on the dollar amount of covered services.

Annual Out-Of-Pocket The maximum amount per year you are required to pay out of your own pocket for covered health care services.


Benefits The health care items or services covered by an insurance plan, sometimes called a “benefit package.”


Catastrophic Plan A health plan that has a lower premium than other health plans, but has a high deductible. It usually doesn’t provide coverage for a lot of services that other plans typically cover. It is designed to provide a kind of “safety net” coverage in case you have an accident or serious illness. The Health Insurance Marketplace offers a catastrophic health plan option for people under 30 and to some people with low incomes.

Claim An itemized bill for services that have been provided to a plan member, spouse or dependent.

Coinsurance Your share of the costs of a covered health care service—usually a percentage of an eligible expense. For example, you may pay 20% of an allowed service while your plan pays 80%.

Copayment A fixed dollar amount you are required to pay for a covered service at the time you receive care.

Cost-Sharing Assistance Federal funds available for eligible people to help reduce health insurance out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, coinsurance or copayments.

Covered Person All persons covered under the policy.

Covered Service A service that is covered according to the terms of your health care policy.


Deductible A fixed amount of expenses you are required to pay before you are reimbursed for a covered service. For example, if your deductible is $1,000, your plan won't pay anything until you've met your $1,000 deductible.

Dependent A person (generally a spouse or child) other than the member who receives health care coverage under the member's policy.

Drug List (Also Known as Drug Formulary) A list of prescribed drugs covered by a health plan. Not all drugs are covered under a plan.


Effective Date The date your health care coverage begins.

Emergency Medical Care Services provided to a person that has a medical condition that may pose serious danger to a person’s health without immediate medical attention.

Essential Health Benefits (EHB) Most insurance plans you can choose from include coverage for certain benefits considered “essential” for basic good health. Short-term or temporary health plans are not required to include EHBs.

Exchange See Health Insurance Marketplace.

Explanation of Benefits (EOB) The form sent to you after a claim has been processed by your health care provider. The EOB explains the actions taken on the claim, including the amount paid, the benefit available and the amount you may owe the provider, and other information, such as how to appeal a claim decision.


Family Coverage Health care coverage for a member and his or her eligible dependents.

Federal Poverty Level (FPL) A level of income used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to determine eligibility for certain government programs and benefits. FPL is one factor that will be used to determine the amount of tax
credits you may qualify for to help with the cost of buying health insurance through Get Covered Illinois, the Official Health Marketplace of Illinois.


Group Plan A group of people covered under the same health care policy through the same employer or association.

Guaranteed Coverage The Affordable Care Act says that most individuals can enroll in some form of insurance regardless of health status, age, gender or other factors.


Health Insurance Marketplace See Get Covered Illinois, the Official Health Marketplace of Illinois.


Individual Health Insurance Plan Health care coverage an individual buys, rather than a plan offered through a job or group.

In-Network Covered services provided or ordered by your primary care physician (PCP) or another provider who is in the specific network of providers that your health plan has contracted with.

Inpatient Services Services provided when you are admitted into a health care facility, such as a hospital.



Marketplace See Health Insurance Marketplace.

Medicaid A joint federally and state-funded program that provides health care coverage for low-income children and families, and for certain older or disabled people. A provision of the Affordable Care Act significantly expands the program in the states that agree to the expansion.

Medicare A federal program established to provide health care coverage for eligible senior citizens and certain disabled people under age 65.

Member The person a contract holder (an employer or insurer) has agreed to provide coverage for, sometimes referred to as the insured or insured person.


Network The doctors, hospitals and other health care providers that are contracted with to deliver health care services to members/subscribers in your health plan.


Open Enrollment Period The period when you make changes to your health plan coverage or choose a new health plan. They usually occur each fall. This year, the individual open enrollment period starts on Nov. 1 and goes through Dec. 15.

Out-of-Network Services provided by health care professionals or at facilities that are not in the network of contracted providers and facilities in your health plan.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum The maximum amount you have to pay for expenses under your health plan during a certain benefit period. This protects you in case of serious or expensive medical conditions.

Outpatient Services Treatment provided to you without an overnight stay in a hospital or other inpatient facility.


Premium The ongoing amount that must be paid for your health insurance or plan. You and/or your employer pay it monthly, quarterly or yearly. The premium may not be the only amount you pay for coverage. Typically, you will also have a coinsurance, copayment and/or deductible amount.

Premium Tax Credits To help you afford health care coverage, you may qualify for tax credits to help with insurance costs when you enroll in a health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Preventive Services Routine health care that includes screenings, check-ups and patient counseling to prevent or detect illnesses, disease or other health problems.

Primary Care Physician (PCP) The physician you choose to be your primary source for medical care and who coordinates all your medical care, including hospital admissions and referrals to specialists. HMO Plans require you to select a PCP to direct your care. If you are a female member, you may have also selected an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) as your PCP.

Provider A licensed health care facility, program, agency, doctor or health professional that delivers health care services.


Special Enrollment Period (SEP) A period of time outside of the annual open enrollment when consumers can enroll or change health care coverage. To be eligible for a SEP, an individual or family must have experienced certain life events, such as getting married, having a baby or adopting a child or loss of health coverage. Individuals may also qualify for an SEP if their current health plan will be discontinued for the coming year.

Subsidy See Premium Tax Credits.


Tax Credits To help you afford health insurance, you may qualify for tax credits to help with insurance costs when you enroll in coverage through Get Covered Illinois, the Official Health Marketplace of Illinois.

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Downloadable MATERIALS

We offer helpful materials for you to download and keep in case you need more information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), how to enroll and how to use your health insurance.