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A copay card is a method of helping patients pay for medical care. Though technically not a type of health insurance, it is a benefit for which some people are eligible, generally with regards to either a specific condition, such as certain types of cancers, or for those who regularly purchase prescription drugs. The copay card is used to cover a set portion of the out-of-pocket costs remaining after insurance has been applied; in many cases, a large portion of whatever the copay would be, hence the name of the card. Individuals must apply for a card and generally meet certain criteria, such as a certain household income, in order to qualify.
Laws surrounding health insurance and the use of benefits like a copay card can vary around the world, and even from state to state in the United States, so it is important to research it carefully and understand any restrictions or limitations. For some people, whose insurance still leaves them with high out-of-pocket costs, however, a copay card can be a good way to mitigate this and save some money. Typically, the card is just applied as a type of secondary insurance. Though it was initially developed for use with prescription drugs, a considerable number of them may now be used for other types of medical care as well.
For many patients, each visit to the doctor can require a separate copay; this can add up pretty quickly, especially if the insurance carries a high deductible. The copay card will then be used instead to pay a percentage, or even the entire amount, of each copay. For insurance purposes, however, the copays will still usually apply to the deductible, even if the patient himself is not actually paying them. In general, these cards are obtained from specific companies, or directly from physicians themselves.
There are usually some restrictions with a copay card, such as a certain household income, or a particular medical condition or prescription drug required. Most will also carry a limit on the amount that can be used each year; they are not simply limitless funds to use for doctor visits. Proponents of copay cards, however, state that they actually help to reduce healthcare costs overall because they make it more likely that individuals will visit the doctor when they need to, rather than putting it off or skipping it altogether. This type of preventative care is very important for avoiding more serious conditions.