For informational purposes, we have included these definitions and as were found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/healthterms.pdf.
In February 2002, the Federal Government’s Interdepartmental Committee on Employment-based Health Insurance Surveys approved the following set of definitions for use in federal surveys collecting employer-based health insurance data. The BLS National Compensation Survey currently uses these definitions in its data collection procedures and publications. These definitions will be periodically reviewed and updated by the Committee.
ASO (Administrative Services Only)—An arrangement in which an employer hires a third party to deliver administrative services to the employer such as claims processing and billing; the employer bears the risk for claims. This is common in self-insured health care plans.
Coinsurance—A form of medical cost sharing in a health insurance plan that requires an insured person to pay a stated percentage of medical expenses after the deductible amount, if any, was paid.
- Once any deductible amount and coinsurance are paid, the insurer is responsible for the rest of the reimbursement for covered benefits up to allowed charges: the individual could also be responsible for any charges in excess of what the insurer determines to be “usual, customary and reasonable.”
- Coinsurance rates may differ if services are received from an approved provider (i.e., a provider with whom the insurer has a contract or an agreement specifying payment levels and other contract requirements) or if received by providers not on the approved list.
- In addition to overall coinsurance rates, rates may also differ for different types of services.
Copayment—A form of medical cost sharing in a health insurance plan that requires an insured person to pay a fixed dollar amount when a medical service is received. The insurer is responsible for the rest of the reimbursement.
- There may be separate copayments for different services.
- Some plans require that a deductible first be met for some specific service services before a copayment applies.
Deductible—A fixed dollar amount during the benefit period—usually a year—that an insured person pays before the insurer starts to make payments for covered medical services. Plans may have both per individual and family deductibles.
- Some plans may have separate deductibles for specific services. For example, a plan may have a hospitalization deductible per admission.
- Deductibles may differ if services are received from an approved provider or if received from providers not on the approved list.
Flexible spending accounts or arrangements (FSA)—Accounts offered and administered by employers that provide a way for employees to set aside, out of their paycheck, pretax dollars to pay for the employee’s share of insurance premiums or medical expenses not covered by the employer’s health plan. The employer may also make contributions to a FSA. Typically, benefits or cash must be used within the given benefit year or the employee loses the money. Flexible spending accounts can also be provided to cover childcare expenses, but those accounts must be established separately from medical FSAs.
Flexible benefits plan (Cafeteria plan) (IRS 125 Plan)—A benefit program under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code that offers employees a choice between permissible taxable benefits, including cash, and nontaxable benefits such as life and health insurance, vacations, retirement plans and child care. Although a common core of benefits may be required, the employee can determine how his or her remaining benefit dollars are to be allocated for each type of benefit from the total amount promised by the employer. Sometimes employee contributions may be made for additional coverage.
Fully insured plan—A plan where the employer contracts with another organization to assume financial responsibility for the enrollees’ medical claims and for all incurred administrative costs.
Gatekeeper—Under some health insurance arrangements, a gatekeeper is responsible for the administration of the patient’s treatment; the gatekeeper coordinates and authorizes all medical services, laboratory studies, specialty referrals and hospitalizations.
Group purchasing arrangement—Any of a wide array of arrangements in which two or more small employers purchase health insurance collectively, often through a common intermediary who acts on their collective behalf. Such arrangements may go by many different names, including cooperatives, alliances, or business groups on health. They differ from one another along a number of dimensions, including governance, functions and status under federal and State laws. Some are set up or chartered by States while others are entirely private enterprises. Some centralize more of the purchasing functions than others, including functions such as risk pooling, price negotiation, choice of health plans offered to employees, and various administrative tasks. Depending on their functions, they may be subject to different State and/or federal rules. For example, they may be regulated as Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs).
Association Health Plans—This term is sometimes used loosely to refer to any health plan sponsored by an association. It also has a precise definition under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that exempts from certain requirements insurers that sell insurance to small employers only through association health plans that meet the definition.
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