What’s the difference between bronze, silver, gold and platinum plans?
Who is this for?
If you’re shopping for your own health coverage, this will help you compare your options by explaining what makes each metal tier unique.
To make shopping for health insurance easier, plans you purchase for you and your family are divided into metal tiers: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. We all know gold costs more than silver, and silver costs more than bronze. But when it comes to health plans, metal tiers tell you more than just price.
Coverage and costs
The Affordable Care Act requires each metal tier to cover a certain percentage of your health care costs.
- Bronze plans cover about 60 percent
- Silver plans cover about 70 percent, unless you're eligible for cost sharing reduction. We explain what this is below.
- Gold plans cover about 80 percent
- Platinum plans cover about 90 percent
What does that mean for you? If you choose a bronze plan, overall you'll pay about 40 percent of your health care costs, and your insurance company will pay about 60 percent. If you choose a gold plan, overall you'll pay about 20 percent, and your insurance company will pay about 80 percent.
Silver plans are a little different. You may be eligible for a cost sharing reduction subsidy. Depending on your income, this subsidy means you could qualify for a silver plan that covers about 73, 87 or 94 percent of your health care costs.
Payments and out-of-pocket costs
Metal tiers will also give you a general idea about monthly payments and out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and copays.
- Bronze plans: lower monthly payments, but higher out-of-pocket costs.
- Silver plans: monthly payments lower than a gold plan, but more than bronze. Your out-of-pocket costs will be less than a bronze plan, but more than a gold plan, unless you're eligible for cost sharing reduction.
- Gold plans: higher monthly payments, but lower out-of-pocket costs.
- Platinum plans: highest monthly payments, lowest out-of-pocket costs.
Metal tiers and HSAs
Another way metal tiers differ from each other is whether they pair with an HSA, or health savings account. An HSA is a bank account you use to pay medical expenses. You can save on taxes with an HSA because the money you put in and take out is tax-free or tax-deductible. These plans pair with an HSA: