Deductible Vs. Out-Of-Pocket: What Is The Difference Between The Two In Insurance?

The deductible in an insurance policy refers to the amount a policyholder pays out of pocket before the insurance provider will pay any claims or expenses. A deductible can be further explained as a term that refers to any of several different types of clauses that insurance companies use to set a limit on the amount of money they pay out on their policies.

The out-of-pocket maximum is the amount that a patient is required to pay on their own for medical expenses in a given year. In addition to the insurance premium, the out-of-pocket maximum includes all other deductibles, copay, and coinsurance payments made on your behalf.

Out-of-pocket insurance reduces the total amount of money that an individual pays on their medical bills in a given year, making it a more affordable form of medical insurance coverage.

Working with providers and insurance companies can be hard at times. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the terminology used in the health insurance industry. When all you want is clear, straightforward answers, it can be extremely frustrating.

If this describes you, know that you are not alone. In a new survey by Bend Financial, while the majority of Americans are confident in their ability to navigate the healthcare system, 56 percent admit to feeling “completely lost” when it comes to dealing with health insurance.

In most cases, health insurance is not difficult to understand once you are familiar with a few fundamental terms and concepts. Throughout this article, we’ll provide background information on the topic of high deductibles vs. out-of-pocket maximums while also explaining the context and providing real-world examples.

What is out of pocket maximum?

Out of pocket cost is the maximum amount of your own money that you pay for care during the course of a single calendar year. Consider your out-of-pocket maximum as the sum of your deductible, coinsurance, and copayments, up to a maximum dollar amount. It includes all costs other than premiums, which you must continue paying in order to maintain your coverage, do not count against your out-of-pocket maximum. By law, no health plan sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2022 can have an out-of-pocket maximum greater than $8,700 for an individual or $17,400 for a family.

What is an out of pocket amount for health insurance?

You are only responsible for the amount of money you spend on covered medical expenses in a given year. Included in this figure is money spent on deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. You will be reimbursed for all covered medical and prescription costs for the remainder of the year if you have reached your annual out-of-pocket maximum under your health plan. Here is an elaborated example for this:

Consider your plan has a $3,000 annual deductible and 20% coinsurance, with a $6,350 maximum out-of-pocket expense. You had no medical expenses for the entire year, but you suddenly required surgery and a few days in the hospital. It is possible that the hospital bill will total $150,000. You will be responsible for the first $3,000 of your hospital bill, which is known as your deductible. Then your coinsurance kicks in to help you out.

If medical expenses that are covered by your health plan are reimbursed at a rate of 80 percent. After that, you’ll be responsible for paying 20 percent of those expenses until you’ve spent the remaining $3,350 of your $6,350 annual out-of-pocket maximum. The plan will then reimburse you for 100 percent of your eligible medical expenses for the remainder of the calendar year.

You’ll need to adjust the numbers based on your specific plan, but you get the idea. In this scenario, your out-of-pocket maximum is $6,350, which is significantly less than a $150,000 hospital bill.

Difference between deductible and out of pocket Maximum

The majority of medical insurance policies do not cover the entire cost of medical care and require the insured to make a financial contribution toward the burden of medical bills. In addition to the deductible, coinsurance, and copay, there are three types of payments that individuals must make out of their own pockets. Out-of-pocket insurance does not include the premiums that must be paid on a regular basis to maintain medical coverage.

The deductible is an amount that an individual must pay out-of-pocket before their insurance company begins to pay for medical expenses. Out of pocket maximum, on the other hand, refers to the total amount of money a patient pays out of their own pocket in a calendar year (including deductible, coinsurance, and copay) over the course of one year.

After that, once the out-of-pocket maximum has been reached, the insurance company covers all subsequent medical expenses.

What is the average amount of a deductible?

The average health insurance deductible for plans purchased through the health insurance marketplace ranges between $1,902 and $4,786 per person. People who obtain health insurance from their employers have lower deductibles, with the average deductible for covered workers standing at $1,644 on average.

There is, however, a wide variety of plans available, each with a different deductible amount to choose from. On the one hand, there are no-deductible health insurance plans, which means that the cost-sharing benefits of your insurance policy begin after you enroll.

High-deductible health plans, on the other hand, require you to bear a significant portion of the medical expenses before the insurance company starts to pay its share. The amount of the deductible can also vary depending on the number of people who are covered in the household. Deductibles are tracked separately for each individual and for each family member in these situations. When an individual has met his or her deductible, the cost-sharing benefits are only available to that individual. Cost-sharing benefits are activated for everyone in the household once the family deductible has been met, regardless of age.

How to take advantage of the out-of-Pocket maximum?

Having an out-of-pocket insurance limit is advantageous to the patient because it allows them to obtain an affordable medical insurance policy because the out-of-pocket amount is the maximum amount they must pay per year for their medical bills, and the rest is covered by the medical insurance policy. An out-of-pocket insurance limit is beneficial to the patient because it allows them to obtain an affordable medical insurance policy.

What is a typical out-of-pocket maximum amount?

It is estimated that the average out-of-pocket maximum for those with health insurance through their employer is $4,039.

The out-of-pocket maximum for health insurance plans purchased through the health insurance marketplace is typically higher than the maximum for plans purchased through an employer. The federal limit on the out-of-pocket maximum, on the other hand, prevents it from becoming excessively high.

According to the final HHS rule, the out-of-pocket maximum for an individual cannot be more than $8,700, and for a family cannot be more than $17,400 for all insurance plans offered through the health insurance marketplace in a year. The Department of Health and Human Services updates the federal limit on a yearly basis (HHS).

What is the Maximum limit to out-of-pocket expenditure?

The amount you are required to pay out-of-pocket is governed by federal legislation. The federal government has set limits on the amount of money healthcare insurers can charge for covered services in a given year.

These include the following:

For the fiscal year 2022, the following are the goals: The maximum amount of money that can be spent out of pocket for a Marketplace plan is $8,700 for an individual and $17,400 for a family.

An individual’s out-of-pocket maximum for a Marketplace plan cannot exceed $8,550, and a family’s out-of-pocket maximum cannot exceed $17,100 for the 2021 plan year.

How can you make the most of benefits in order to maximize your out-of-pocket maximums?

In general, an out-of-pocket maximum refers to the most you are required to pay for covered healthcare services in a given year. When you spend up to the amount on your healthcare in a calendar year, your health insurance company covers 100 percent of your healthcare expenses in the following year.

The out-of-pocket maximum is the additional amount of money you can spend on expenses other than premiums during a policy period, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copays. So, once you reach your out-of-pocket maximum, your health insurance covers 100 percent of the majority of covered health benefits for the remainder of your insurance policy’s period of protection. It all starts over again with the next policy period (plan year) – please keep in mind that the policy year may not coincide with the calendar year.

It is beneficial to plan ahead for healthcare services that you may require in the coming year and to understand how out-of-pocket maximums work in order to make an informed decision about which health plan to enroll in.

What comes first deductible or out-of-pocket?

Medical insurance policies typically do not cover the full scope of medical expenses. When it comes to sharing the financial burden of medical expenses with the patient, insurance companies use various strategies to accomplish this.

A deductible is an amount a patient has to pay out of pocket each year for his or her medical insurance before the insurance company begins to pay for any medical bills.

The out-of-pocket maximum includes the total amount that a patient is required to pay out of their own pocket for their medical expenses in a given year. In addition to the insurance premium, the out-of-pocket maximum includes all other deductibles, copay, and coinsurance payments made during the year.

What are the examples of deductible and out-of-pocket maximum?

There is a distinction between an out-of-pocket maximum and a plan’s deductible.

The money you spend on covered services is applied first to the deductible. The deductible is an amount of money you pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. Then, once you’ve met your deductible, you may be responsible for a percentage of the costs that were covered (this is called coinsurance). These payments are deducted from your out-of-pocket spending limit. When you reach that threshold, your insurance plan will cover 100 percent of all covered expenses going forward.

As for the example, Maximum Allowable Out-of-Pocket, let’s say your maximum out-of-pocket expense is $6,000, your deductible is $4,500, and your coinsurance percentage is 40%. If you have covered surgery that costs $10,000, you will first have to pay your $4,500 deductible, which will leave you with a $5,500 balance to pay after that. Given that you have a 40 percent coinsurance rate, you would owe an additional $2,200, and the insurance company covers the remaining $3,300—that is, if you did not have a predetermined out-of-pocket maximum.

Navigating Your Annual Out-of-Pocket Maximum in Healthcare

Your annual expenses, on the other hand, are limited to $6,000. Because you’ve already paid $4,500, you will only have to pay $1,500 toward the remaining $5,500 balance. The insurance company will cover the remaining $4,000 in expenses. Your total out-of-pocket expense for the surgery is $6,000, and your insurance will cover the cost of any follow-up visits with your in-network doctor because you have already reached your annual out-of-pocket maximum.

Thus, in most cases, an out-of-pocket maximum refers to the most money you will spend on healthcare in a given year. Important exceptions exist, so make sure you understand what is and is not covered by your out-of-pocket maximum before you begin your treatment.

Lower-income individuals and families may be eligible for reduced out-of-pocket maximums as a result of cost-sharing reduction discounts, which are available to all patients. You must meet certain income requirements and enroll in a Health Insurance Marketplace plan in the Silver category in order to be considered eligible.

Does the out-of-pocket maximum include deductible?

A deductible is an amount one pays out of pocket to cover the cost of your medical care upfront. You are responsible for the full cost of doctors’ visits and treatments for each policy year, up to the point where your total spending reaches the deductible amount. After that, you’ll be responsible for a portion of your healthcare expenses as defined by your insurance policy until you reach your out-of-pocket maximum. This is the maximum amount of money you will have to pay out of pocket in a calendar year. Once you have spent this amount, the insurance company will cover all of the costs of covered health care services until your spending reaches the next calendar year’s maximum.

Under the Affordable Care Act, all of your out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, count toward your out-of-pocket maximum. It is the amount of money you pay out-of-pocket for medical services before your insurance plan begins to cover the costs.

For example, if the deductible is $1,000, you will be responsible for the entire first $1,000 of your medical expenses. A total of how much you pay will be kept by your insurer, and once you reach $1,000, the cost-sharing benefits of your health insurance plan will kick in. The insurance company will pay the remaining $200 so that you will only have to pay $50 instead of the full $250 for an X-ray.

In the case of health insurance, the deductible is calculated on an annual basis, and once your new policy year begins, the total of what you have paid will be reset to $0. This could mean that your healthcare costs will be higher in the first half of the calendar year until you reach your deductible amount, which could be significant. After that, you’ll be eligible for the cost-sharing benefits of your insurance plan for the rest of the year, which means you’ll pay less for covered healthcare services.

Maximize Your Health Insurance Benefits: Are You Near Your Out-of-Pocket Maximum?

If you’re approaching or have almost hit your out-of-pocket maximum, now’s the time to take full advantage of your health insurance benefits. Here’s how you can make the most of it:

  1. Schedule any overdue medical appointments or tests that you’ve been putting off.
  2. Discuss elective procedures with your healthcare provider that you may have delayed.
  3. Stock up on non-perishable medical supplies covered by your plan.
  4. Secure a 90-day supply of long-term prescription medications before your coverage period ends.
  5. Always review your policy details before any healthcare services to understand coverage and referrals.
  6. Educate yourself about your plan’s specific out-of-pocket maximum and how it applies.
  7. Note that in-network services count towards your out-of-pocket maximum, while out-of-network services may have separate limits.
  8. Family plans have both individual and family out-of-pocket maximums, so consider these limits if you have dependents covered.
  9. Once an individual reaches their out-of-pocket maximum, their covered care is typically fully paid for, but costs for other family members may still apply.
  10. Remember, expenses not covered by insurance, such as non-network provider costs, do not count towards your out-of-pocket maximum.

By understanding these points and planning accordingly, you can optimize your healthcare spending and benefits under your insurance plan.


In healthcare planning, knowing your maximum out-of-pocket expenses is crucial. Marketplace plans set a cap on what you’ll ever pay annually, ensuring cost predictability. For 2022, this cap stands at $8,700 for individuals and $17,400 for families.

Having an out-of-pocket maximum safeguards you against excessive healthcare expenses, reducing financial uncertainty during high-treatment years. It’s essential to review coverage details to avoid unexpected costs.

Charles Bains

Charles Bains

Charles Bains started his insurance career as a marketing intern before pounding the pavement as a commercial lines agent in Orlando, FL. As an industry journalist, his articles have appeared in a variety of trade publications. His insurance television career, short-lived but glorious, once saw him serve as the expert adviser on an insurance-themed infomercial (yes, you read that correctly). Having recently worked for various organizations, coupled with his broader insurance knowledge, Charles is able to understand our client’s needs and guide them accordingly. He is a gem for Insurance Noon as his wide area of expertise and experience have been beneficial in conducting further researches to come up with solutions and writing them in a manner which is easy for everyone including beginners to comprehend.