Insurance term: HSA
What it really means: "Health Savings Account." Tax-free money taken out of your paycheck and put into an account owned by you forever, only to be spent on health care expenses.
You can contribute pre-tax money to health savings accounts because it can only be used for qualified health stuff (like deductibles and copays, above, not your fancy $50 foot cream or your protein shakes). It’s owned by you forever, it carries over from year to year, but you can only contribute to it if you have a plan with a designated high deductible. The idea is that you may have out-of-pocket costs (money you personally have to pay), but it’s not so bad if you have a special account that you can’t accidentally deplete on a Saturday night.
Insurance term: FSA
What it really means: "Flexible Spending Account." It's like an HSA, but doesn't roll over year to year or if you change jobs
Unlike an HSA, an FSA is owned by your employer, and you usually don’t get to keep the money from year to year or if you leave the company. So if you know for sure that you're going to have health care costs in a given year, this might be your best option.
Insurance term: FML
What it really means: Fuck my life.
This is something you'll be saying when you're staring down all the different plans and trying to decide how much you want in your FSA, wishing you were born in Canada, or anywhere else really, GOD, why does health insurance in this country have to be so difficult?!
Just kidding. You can do this! These are the buzzwords you want to be cognizant of as you’re flailing in the sea of information that is choosing an insurance plan. Keep in mind that, as Baker says, “There's one plan that's going to be the best, technically, but the reality is it depends a lot on your circumstances.” Do you have lots of prescriptions? Do you expect to see a doctor often? If you unexpectedly had bills, could you pay them?
“It's really, really important to understand the implications,” adds Baker. Given each plan you’re considering, “If you were to have an illness or to get into an accident, what would the financial implications of that be?” And even once you have a plan, the more you know about all this nonsense, the better -- you’ll know how to work with the system, and if you get a bill that doesn’t seem right, you’ll know to speak up. “Sometimes when it comes to health-related issues, people are less inclined to question -- you feel like you're in a vulnerable position. But you should always ask questions and advocate for yourself,” says Baker.
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Marina Komarovsky is a freelance writer for Thrillist, and she is thinking about marketing flashcards for all this vocab. For more on health and health care, follow her tweets @MariKomarovsky.