A set of services that an insurance plan is required to provide to patients. There can be no dollar limits each year on the cost that insurance pays for essential health benefits. According to the Affordable Care Act, plans offered in small group and individual markets must provide items and services in at least 10 categories for the plan to be certified and offered in the health care exchanges. Benefit categories include emergency services, preventive wellness and chronic disease management, and prescription drugs. More information is available at HealthCare.gov.