These are amounts that the plan expects you to pay each year before it starts covering any bills. This can significantly reduce the cost of an insurance plan, since the vast majority of people don't get sick enough to meet the deductible. That means you can afford better coverage for expensive illnesses, which is when you really need it.
It's important that the deductible isn't high enough to discourage people from getting care when they need it, though. Since all the employees at a company have to have the same conditions on their plan, deductibles aren't used as often as they could be -- what is a reasonable amount for a low-salary employee is a joke to the upper management.
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©2000 Eileen K. Carpenter, MD