Copay vs Coinsurance : What is the Difference?

When it comes to healthcare services, copays and coinsurance are two common types of cost-sharing. A copay is a fixed amount that you pay out of pocket for a specific service, such as a doctor’s visit or prescription medication. On the other hand, coinsurance is a percentage of the total cost of a service that you’re responsible for paying. For example, if your coinsurance is 20% and the total cost of a service is $100, you would pay $20 and your insurance would cover the remaining $80. Copays are typically used for more routine services, while coinsurance is more commonly used for larger, more expensive services such as surgery or hospitalization. By understanding the differences between copay and coinsurance, you can make more informed decisions about your healthcare costs and choose the best plan for your needs.

In health insurance, it is common for expenses to add up fast. Cost sharing is when your insurance company requires you to pay a portion of the cost of a medical treatment, such as a lab test or an outpatient operation. Insurance companies typically impose cost sharing in three ways: co-payments, coinsurance, and deductibles.  

It is important to understand the differences between these terms. In this article, we will talk about co-pay, coinsurance, and deductibles, the difference between them, and how they can vary so that you can estimate your medical costs.   

What is Copay? 

A copay is a set amount you pay upfront for your healthcare services, whether doctor visits or prescription drugs. Your health plan fixes this amount. They can vary according to care but are usually less than $100 for routine health issues. They are lower for primary or preventive care than for expert visits. Copays for screenings and vaccines are completely waived under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  

Regular copays and coinsurance apply to Medicare Advantage for anyone with Medicare. Traditional Medicare Parts A and B recipients often pay only coinsurance. The length of your hospital stay determines the coinsurance amount for Part A. Still, the cost for Part B is typically 20% of the Medicare-approved fee for doctor visits, outpatient therapy, and medical equipment.  

If you are a provider, read more about how you can make patient copays less painful. 

What is Coinsurance ?

Co-insurance refers to the percentage of covered medical expenses after you have met your deductible. The insurance covers the rest. This also depends upon your plan. You must pay the entire bill if you get billed for care that the insurance does not cover.  

Learn more about Medicare billing in this blog. 

Deductibles and out-of-pocket Maximum 

A deductible is the amount you pay for healthcare each year before your plan begins to share the costs of covered services. If you have dependents on your policy, you will have an individual deductible and a separate and higher amount for the dependants.  

Before consumers have reached their deductible, a health plan could pay for certain expenses like periodic check-ups. Once you have reached your deductible, you must pay some amount in co-payments and co-insurance, and the insurance covers the rest.   

Out-of-pocket are the costs that are not covered by insurance. The out-of-pocket maximum is the max amount of out-of-pocket expenses you must pay in one year.   

Your health insurance plan pays 100% of all covered services for the remainder of the year once you hit your out-of-pocket maximum. Your out-of-pocket limit includes all deductible, copay, and coinsurance expenses. However, premiums and any money you spend on services not covered by your plan are not considered.  

You might have two out-of-pocket maximums, one for you and one for your family. The highest permitted out-of-pocket limit under the Affordable Care Act is $8,550 for individual coverage and $17,100 for family coverage. 

Low coinsurance or high coinsurance? What is preferred 

According to, consumers who have lower monthly premiums would often pay a higher coinsurance amount. A plan with higher premiums may offer lower coinsurance.  

If you are less likely to need medical services and might only need them in an emergency, you may want to pay lower premiums with higher coinsurance. However, if that is not the case, you might want to pay a higher monthly premium with lower coinsurance and other out-of-pocket expenses. 

Copay vs Coinsurance: The Difference 

A set amount people pay for doctor visits or prescription . Co-insurance begins after you have met your deductibles.
The cost depends upon the type of care or prescription.  The percentage is same for all types of procedures.  
They are usually paid before deductibles. Your plan determines whether your co-payment counts towards the deductible.  After meeting their deductible, people pay a percentage of the treatment cost determined by their insurance plan for medical services and procedures. The remainder of the proportion is covered by insurance.
It needs to be paid upfront at the time of service or during filling of prescription.  The insurance company will pay the bill and then notify people of the amount they must pay the insurance company. 


Do they count toward out-of-pocket maximums? 

Coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles all count towards out-of-pocket maximums. Premiums or any cost on services not included in the plan do not count towards out-of-pocket.   

Once an individual reaches their out-of-pocket maximum, insurance covers the remaining costs for services the plan covers for the rest of the year.   

Do Co-payments and Co-insurance apply toward deductibles? 

Copays do not go towards your deductibles in most health insurance policies. Furthermore, coinsurance is, by definition, only applicable if your deductible has been met. Therefore, your deductible is not affected by your coinsurance payments.   

You should be aware that certain insurance plans have different deductibles for prescription medications. 

Do All Health Insurance Plans Have Co-pays and Co-insurance? 

Not all healthcare plans require customers to pay a co-pay for some medical care. On the other hand, a catastrophic health plan may not require coinsurance and may pay up to 100% of many preventive costs.   


From this article, you can easily determine the difference between copay vs coinsurance. Co-payments are set amounts of money patients must pay for prescription drugs and medical care. After meeting their deductible, patients must pay coinsurance, a proportion of their medical expenses.   

If they anticipate needing frequent or expensive medical care, they may purchase a plan with higher premiums and lower coinsurance.   

Some health plans offer digital health management tools like CareCloud’s Chronic Care Management and Remote Patient Monitoring. Contact CareCloud today to avail the best reimbursements on digital health products. 

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