Insurance can seem complicated at first, especially if you don’t have a career as an insurance agent or the time to read over 2,000 pages of healthcare law (not to toot our own horn, but we have). At Susan Polk Insurance, we strive to educate our clients and help them understand insurance because we know it doesn’t come easily to most people.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What do health insurance acronyms mean?,” you’re in good company. A study by Duffy & Duffy (a NY-based medical malpractice law firm) showed that the average Californian struggles with health insurance literacy. In fact, California ranked number 34 on the list of 50 states, with a mere 54% insurance literacy rate. This statistic indicates the need for California insurance agencies to step it up, providing residents with useful and timely insurance information.

Insurance literacy is also important if you happen to experience an urgent healthcare need or an after-hours question that can’t wait until morning. If that’s the case, we hope that this article will demystify the process of insurance and help you understand some of the common acronyms that you might encounter on insurance statements.

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Without health insurance literacy, you could end up paying for a plan that you don’t need – or you could pay for a plan that doesn’t provide the features that will serve you best.

What is Health Insurance Literacy?

Let’s start with the first acronym: Health Insurance Literacy (HIL). Health insurance literacy is your ability to find, obtain, and understand health insurance plans. Literacy also refers to your ability to use insurance to find the healthcare services that you need.

Health Insurance Literacy Saves You Money

When it comes down to it, health insurance literacy is your ability to make sure that you get the insurance you need and understand it well enough to get the most out of it. Without health insurance literacy, you could end up paying for a plan that you don’t actually need – or you could pay for a plan that doesn’t provide all the features that will serve you and your family best. In other words, a higher level of health insurance literacy can save you money because your health insurance will be targeted toward your family’s specific health needs.

Another aspect of health insurance literacy is knowing and managing your own personal health issues. Some chronic health issues (such as Type 2 diabetes) can be managed through proper diet and exercise. Doing so will enable you to save money on expensive medications – an especially helpful benefit in these times!

Being diagnosed with an illness is a scary process, and it can be difficult to wade through the risks and benefits that have a direct impact on your health and safety. As intimidating as it may seem, being educated about your health insurance can be extremely empowering. Instead of feeling trapped, you’ll find glimmers of hope that allow you become your own health advocate.

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As intimidating as it may seem, being educated about your health insurance can be extremely empowering. Instead of feeling trapped, you’ll find glimmers of hope that allow you become your own health advocate.

Common Health Insurance Terms and Their Meanings

In an effort to shed some light on health insurance acronyms, we’ve compiled some of the common health insurance terms for you here:

  • ACA: Affordable Care Act
  • ADA: American with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • ALOS: Average Length of Stay
  • AMA: American Medical Association
  • ASC: Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • BOI: Bureau of Insurance
  • CDHP: Consumer-Directed Health Plan
  • COB: Coordination of Benefits
  • COBRA: Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (coverage extension plan)
  • COI: Certificate of Insurance
  • DMAS: Department of Medical Assistance Services
  • DOL: Department of Labor
  • DOS: Date of Service
  • E & L: Exclusions and Limitations
  • EAP: Employee Assistance Program
  • EMT: Emergency Medical Technician
  • ENT: Ears, Nose, and Throat
  • FDA: Food and Drug Administration
  • FFS: Fee for Service
  • FMLA: Family and Medical Leave Act
  • FSA: Flexible Spending Account
  • HMO: Health Maintenance Organization
  • ICU: Intensive Care Unit
  • LOS: Length of Stay
  • LPN: Licensed Practical Nurse
  • LTD: Long-Term Disability
  • NIMH: National Institute of Mental Health
  • OB: Obstetrician
  • OOA: Out of Area
  • OOP: Out of Pocket
  • OSHA: Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • OTC: Over the Counter
  • OV: Office Visit
  • PCP: Primary Care Physician
  • PHI: Protected Health Information
  • PPO: Preferred Provider Organization
  • PT: Physical Therapy
  • ROI: Release of Information
  • SF: Self-Funded
  • ST: Speech Therapy
  • STD: Short-Term Disability
  • UCC: Urgent Care Center
  • URI: Upper Respiratory Infection
  • VA Hospital: Veterans Administration Hospital
  • WC: Worker’s Compensation
  • WH: Withhold
  • WIC: Women, Infants, and Children (Supplemental food program)
  • YTD: Year to Date

We’re Here to Answer Your Insurance Questions

Finding the right health insurance can be tough—especially in SLO County and on the Central Coast, where getting the most out of your insurance dollars is crucial. Here at Susan Polk Insurance, we’ve been making insurance simple for people just like you for over 30 years. If you have questions about your insurance, please contact us. We’re always available and delighted to help.

We’ve Provided the Best in Health Insurance Service & Expertise for Over 30 Years.

Since 1988, tens of thousands of people from SLO County and beyond have trusted us to help them get the most out of their insurance dollars. You should, too.

Get Covered Today