What is a variable copay?

UPDATED: Jul 27, 2010

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UPDATED: Jul 27, 2010Fact Checked

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Asked July 27, 2010

1 Answer


In health insurance, the copay is very much like a deductible in other types of insurance, except that you will have to make that copayment every time you have the same procedure. Variable copayments complicate things even more, and the same procedure, performed by the same doctor, could cost you more of a copayment depending on the location where it is performed.

For example, if you had a procedure performed in your doctor's office, and paid a $50 copay, the same procedure might cost you a copay of $200 to have it performed by the same doctor at a hospital or other facility. It is important for you to know whether you insurance uses copayment, and if it does, to make sure that you are using the facilities with the lowest costs for identical procedures. Ask your doctor what other location he or she practices medicine, and find out what the costs for your medical treatment are at those facilities. With that information in hand, you are able to coordinate your doctor visits with the locations available to you at the lowest cost without sacrificing your own primary physician or specialist.

What you must be aware of is choosing to get a procedure done at the higher copay. Because it is more profitable for the doctor, and less costly for the insurance company, either one may have the tendency to refer you along the path which is more expensive for you. Ask about cost differences, copayments and other costs at one facility compared to a similar location in the same network, and make arrangements to suit your financial and medical requirements.

Answered July 27, 2010 by Anonymous

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