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5 U.S. Health Insurance Terms Defined

If your child is planning to study abroad in the United States, they will probably need a health insurance plan. When looking at insurance documents, you may find some terms confusing. This can make the process of purchasing health insurance overwhelming.

That’s why it helps to have this glossary of health insurance terms. Once you understand what these words mean, you will have more insight into picking a plan that will work best for your child and fits in your budget. Contact our insurance team for further explanation at

Understanding U.S. Health Insurance Terms

When shopping for your child’s health insurance, you’ll find many options. 

These five words can help you understand how plans are structured, so you can choose one that’s right for your family.

  • Premium: This is the set amount you will have to pay the insurance company to enroll in the health insurance plan and receive benefits. It is usually stated as a monthly cost. 
  • Copayment: Also known as a “copay,” this is how much you will pay each time your child receives medical services whether in person or via telemedicine. These usually apply to doctors’ office visits, but can also apply to emergency room visits and prescription medications.
  • Deductible: This is a specific amount of money you must pay before the insurance company will start to pay for your child’s medical expenses. You may find that plans cover the full amount for certain services, such as a yearly checkup, without having to reach the deductible.
  • Coinsurance: You’ll see this term when looking at various health insurance plans. It refers to the portion of the expense you have to pay after your deductible is met. It’s shown as a percentage. For example, consider a policy with 20% coinsurance after a $1,000 deductible. After you pay the first $1,000, you will then be liable for 20% of all future costs; the insurer will cover 80%.
  • Network: Most plans have in-network and out-of-network benefits. This means that the doctors are either in the insurance company’s network, or they aren’t. The plan will cover all, or more, of the expenses for doctors who are in the network and less or nothing if your child sees a doctor out of the network. To save money, only see in-network providers. But if your child visits a doctor out of the plan’s network, you may not have to pay for the entire visit out of pocket. The insurance company will provide a list of which providers are in or out of the network. 

You may come up with other questions as you try to choose an insurance plan for your child. The school or the insurer can help you find answers.

ISM Insurance offers health insurance programs for international students attending summer camp and studying in the States. Schools throughout the country turn to us when they want to offer their international students comprehensive health coverage. For more information, click here.