A payment made by an individual who has health insurance, usually at the time a service is received, to offset some of the cost of care. Co-payments are a common feature of HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) and PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) health plans in the US. Co-payment size may vary depending on the service, generally with low copayments required for visits to a regular medical provider and higher payments for services received in the emergency room, the latter intended to discourage insured persons from using the emergency room unless it is absolutely necessary. Also called co-insurance.

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co-pay·ment (')kō-'pā-mənt n a relatively small fixed fee required by a health insurer (as an HMO) to be paid by the patient at the time of each office visit, outpatient service, or filling of a prescription

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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