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What is an Annual Limit (Health Insurance)?

Health Insurance • July 26, 2010 at 3:11 AM • Written by: PeopleKeep Team

Every year, countless individuals grapple with healthcare expenses that threaten to drain their savings. The concept of an annual limit, a once-common feature of many health insurance policies, plays a critical role in this financial balancing act.

Exploring the intricacies of annual limits can illuminate how they shape access to healthcare and the out-of-pocket costs consumers face.

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What are the annual limits for health insurance?

The annual limit on a health insurance policy is the maximum dollar amount that the insurance policy will cover in a year. In other words, it's the maximum benefit a policyholder can receive from a health insurance policy each year.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), annual dollar limits were commonplace, often leaving individuals responsible for the cost of care that exceeded those set limits.

However, since January 1, 2014, the ACA has prohibited annual limits for the ten essential health benefits, which include crucial services such as hospital and physician care. This ensured more comprehensive coverage for policyholders.

Despite these restrictions, insurance companies may still implement annual and lifetime coverage limits on services that the federal government doesn't classify as essential health benefits. Additionally, grandfathered plans may have different rules regarding limits.

Policyholders should be aware of plan rules since exceeding these limits might necessitate paying out-of-pocket for healthcare services. Understanding your health insurance coverage and any potential limitations is essential to avoid unexpected costs.

This blog post was originally published on July 26, 2010. It was last updated in 2024 with the latest information.

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