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13 qualifying life events that trigger ACA special enrollment
Outside of open enrollment, a special enrollment period allows you to enroll in an ACA-compliant plan (on or off-exchange) if you experience a qualifying life event.

Latest News & Topics

Latest News & Topics


Finalized federal rule reduces total duration of short-term health plans to 4 months
A finalized federal rule will impose new nationwide duration limits on short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI) plans. The rule – which applies to plans sold or issued on or after September 1, 2024 – will limit STLDI plans to three-month terms, and to total duration – including renewals – of no more than four months.
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out-of-pocket costs

What are out-of-pocket costs?

Out-of-pocket costs refer to the portion of your covered medical expenses that you can expect to pay during the course of a plan year, although they typically only refer to in-network costs for essential health benefits, as there are no regulations in place to cap how much people spend on out-of-network care, and insurers are not required to cover services that aren’t considered essential health benefits.

What expenses are included in out-of-pocket costs?

Your out-of-pocket costs can include a combination of your health plan’s deductible, copays, and coinsurance, for any covered, in-network services.

The monthly premiums you pay in order to have coverage are not included in out-of-pocket costs. Out-of-pocket costs are only incurred if and when you need medical care, whereas premiums have to be paid every month, regardless of whether you need medical care or not.

If you receive medical care that’s not covered by your health plan, you’ll have to pay the full cost of the treatment, but it won’t count towards your policy’s out-of-pocket limit (an example would be the cost of dental care, assuming your plan does not include dental coverage).

Are out-of-pocket costs capped?

Yes. One of the Affordable Care Act’s notable improvements for consumers is a limit on out-of-pocket costs. For 2023, the maximum out-of-pocket for an individual is $9,100, and for a family, it’s $18,200 (in 2024, these amounts will grow to $9,450 and $18,900, respectively). But health plans can cap out-of-pocket spending at lower levels, and the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies also result in lower out-of-pocket limits for eligible enrollees who select silver-level plans.

Under the ACA, family plans can have total out-of-pocket limits that are double the individual out-of-pocket limit, but no individual can be expected to pay more in out-of-pocket costs than the individual limit, even if he or she is covered under a family plan. (This rule was implemented in 2016.)

Is there a limit on out-of-pocket costs if you don’t stay in-network?

If you use out-of-network providers, your out-of-pocket costs can be considerably higher than the limits stated above. On some plans, they’re double the in-network limits, but on other plans, out-of-pocket costs can be unlimited if patients receive care from doctors or hospitals that aren’t in the health plan’s network.

And it’s increasingly common to see plans that simply don’t cover out-of-network care at all, unless it’s an emergency situation. HMOs and EPOs use that model, and they are quite common, especially in the individual/family health insurance market.

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Q. When I compare health insurance plans in the exchange for our family, they all show total family deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Does that mean we’d have to meet the full family out-of-pocket limit, even for just one person?
If you're healthy – or sick – and have some money saved or plan to save some in the coming year, you might want to consider a high-deductible health insurance plan.
Policies that began on or after August 1, 2012, are required to provide all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, patient education and counseling for women-without cost-sharing.
As long as your income doesn’t exceed 250% of the poverty level (and especially if it doesn’t exceed 200% of the poverty level), you’re eligible for cost-sharing subsidies.
If you're an adult who bought a dental insurance plan, your out-of-pocket costs will depend entirely on the amount of dental care you need during the year.