What Is Coinsurance for Health Insurance?

Coinsurance is the proportion of health care services expenses you must pay out of pocket after you’ve achieved your policy’s deductible.

Important Takeaways
  • Coinsurance is the proportion of health care expenditures you must pay after you’ve reached your deductible.
  • The insurance company normally covers a bigger amount of any medically essential healthcare treatment, and you pay the balance.
  • Health plans with low premiums tend to have greater coinsurance payments.
  • Federal law restricts yearly out-of-pocket payments for marketplace health insurance.
  • Once you achieve your plan’s yearly out-of-pocket limit, you no longer have to pay coinsurance for that year.

How Coinsurance Works

Coinsurance is your out-of-pocket price for a covered medical or health care cost after the deductible, which normally renews yearly, has been met on your health care plan. It is one of numerous health insurance charges, including your premium, deductible, and copayments.

Typically specified as a percentage figure and detailed in your policy documentation, coinsurance enables you to divide the cost of the covered service with the insurance company—your insurance company pays the part of the cost of the service that is insured, and you pay the balance.

The deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket every plan year before your health insurance kicks in.

A copayment is a predetermined cash amount you must pay for health care services after you’ve paid your deductible, such as a $25 copay each visit to your primary care doctor.

Coinsurance only applies after you've paid your deductible. After you've reached your deductible for the year, your coinsurance portion will be charged to you, along with any copays that apply.

Coinsurance amounts often aren't shared equally between you and your insurer. The insurance company usually carries a heavier burden, paying the bulk of the covered cost (the greater proportion) of a covered health care treatment.

The first number in a coinsurance split is what your insurer pays and the second number is what you pay. Coinsurance is often added to the insurer's authorized amount for a covered health care service, which is the maximum amount the plan will pay for that item. 

Typical coinsurance divisions are 70/30 or 80/20—your insurance company would pay either 70% or 80%, and you would pay the remaining 20% or 30%, respectively, out of pocket, once the deductible is satisfied.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum

You'll continue to pay your coinsurance throughout the year until you've reached your out-of-pocket limit. After you reach your out-of-pocket limit, you won't be charged any charges for health insurance apart from premiums, out-of-network treatments, and any other expenditures that your plan doesn't generally cover.

Example of Coinsurance

Suppose you met your deductible in the spring then, in the autumn, you break a finger and go to the emergency room. Your bill is $2,000 (within the allowable limit), and your coinsurance is 80%/20%, which means you're accountable for 20% of the charge. You'll pay $400.

The $400 is known as your "out-of-pocket" expenditure. The insurance company, paying the bulk of the bill at the greater percentage, would pay the remaining $1,600.

In general, health insurance plans with low monthly premiums have greater coinsurance, whereas policies with higher monthly premiums have lower coinsurance.

Health Insurance Marketplace Coinsurance

Marketplace health plans come in four kinds. These categories dictate the proportion of expenditures the insurance company pays for your health care requirements and the amount of coinsurance you must pay. These percentages kick in after the deductible has been reached.

  • Bronze: In a bronze plan, you pay 40% coinsurance, while the insurance company pays 60%. While bronze plans provide the lowest monthly rates, they have large deductibles and the highest coinsurance percentage.
  • Silver: Silver plans require you to pay 30% coinsurance, while the insurer covers 70% of expenses. Silver plans provide more reasonable health care expenses than bronze plans, with lower deductibles and moderate premiums.
  • Gold: Gold plans require you to pay 20% coinsurance, while the insurance company covers 80% of the expenditures. While these plans include low deductibles and out-of-pocket expenditures, they have higher monthly premiums than bronze or silver policies.
  • Platinum: These plans cover 90% of your health care expenditures and you pay 10%. They provide relatively low deductibles yet have the highest monthly prices. 

Coinsurance vs. Copayment

The phrases "coinsurance” and “copayments" seem similar, but they are two totally distinct health care charges.

Coinsurance Copayments
Paid after meeting your deductible Paid after meeting your deductible
Percentage of health care cost Fixed dollar amount
Fixed percentage for all services Can vary by service
Subject to Marketplace out-of-pocket limits Subject to Marketplace out-of-pocket limits

Coinsurance is a proportion of expenditures you must pay after reaching your deductible. Often, health plans with the lowest monthly rates have the greatest coinsurance payments.

A copayment is a predetermined cash amount you must pay while getting health care services after meeting your policy’s deductible. Unlike coinsurance, copayment amounts may vary per service.

With marketplace plans, both coinsurance expenses and copayments are subject to yearly out-of-pocket restrictions.

The Bottom Line

Coinsurance is a regular component in health insurance policies. The cost is necessary after paying your deductible, except for treatments entirely covered by your plan, including as preventative care. Marketplace health insurance plans limit yearly out-of-pocket coinsurance charges as well as deductible and copayment rates.

Selecting a health plan means finding a balance between what you can afford to pay in premiums and how much you can afford to pay in health care expenditures. Plans that provide cheap premiums often require you to pay a greater proportion of coinsurance, whereas policies with higher premiums pay a bigger percentage of health care expenditures.

Commonly Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Medicare coinsurance?

Medicare Part A's coinsurance varies. For example, durable medical equipment comes with a 20% copay, whereas Medicare-approved inpatient respite care comes with a 5% coinsurance. 7 Medicare Part B's coinsurance is normally 20%. 8 Medicare Advantage, Part D, and Medigap coinsurance payments vary per plan.

What is the difference between deductible and coinsurance?

Your deductible is your out-of-pocket payment before your health insurance starts to cover charges. When you've reached your deductible, your coinsurance kicks in, and that becomes the amount you're expected to pay out-of-pocket. 

What does 80% coinsurance mean?

Normally, 80% coinsurance implies that, after you reach your deductible, your insurer is paying for 80% of covered medical expenditures and you're responsible for 20%. If you had a $2,000 charge and you've satisfied your deductible, 80% coinsurance implies your insurer would pay $1,000 and you'd pay $400.

Is coinsurance good or bad?

Coinsurance is a beneficial thing to have since it makes you accountable for a percentage of a covered medical expenditure instead of the full amount.