When you see what your health plan’s co-pays are, it’s easy to tell how much you’d pay for a doctor’s visit, lab test, or x-ray. But what does it mean when the “Deductible is Waived” for the co-pay? And will this cost you more or less in the end?
Normally, you are responsible for paying your full deductible before your insurance pays anything towards your health care. However, some plans will waive the deductible for certain services, usually office visits or emergency care if you’re admitted to a hospital.
Let’s say your co-pay for a doctor’s visit is $25 and your deductible is $1,500. If the doctor charges $200 for a visit, you would normally pay the $200 yourself and it would be applied to your deductible. If the co-pay is waived, you’ll just pay $25.
Sounds like a good deal right?
Maybe, maybe not. Waived co-pays can be a great deal if you are pretty healthy and do not expect to meet your deductible. They’ll allow you to skip over paying the full charge and only be responsible for the co-pay. They can also save you a lot of money if you are ever admitted to a hospital from the emergency department.
But if you would meet your deductible anyway, this feature doesn’t really save you money in the end. It might actually drag out how long it would take you to meet your deductible, just shifting the out-of-pocket cost to other services. Or even worse, some plans will not apply that $25 co-pay you just paid to your deductible, so you won’t get credit for the money you just spent.
And keep in mind that many preventive care benefits are 100% covered anyway, regardless of whether you met your deductible.
So your best bet? Enjoy the waiver benefit if you have it. But be wary of paying a higher premium for the feature if you use a lot of health services–it might not be worth the cost. And always check on exactly what costs are applied to your deductible if you expect to meet it!