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This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff and is brought to you by Walgreens.

A health insurance Marketplace, also known as an Exchange, is a web site where you can shop for and compare insurance plans in your state. Your state's Marketplace has tools to help you compare your choices and pick the right plan for your needs.

On a state Marketplace, health plans are grouped by levels of coverage -- how much the plan will pay toward the cost of your health care and what services are covered.

Each level is named after a type of metal:

  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

Bronze plans offer the least coverage and platinum plans offer the most.

How do the bronze, silver, gold, and platinum levels differ?

The levels vary by the percentage of costs you have to pay on average toward the health care you receive.

Here are the percentages of health care costs you pay, on average, for each type of plan:

  • Bronze plan: 40%
  • Silver plan: 30%
  • Gold plan: 20%
  • Platinum plan: 10%

The way you pay your portion of these costs is in deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.

In general, the more you pay in monthly premiums, the less you’ll pay in out-of-pocket costs each time you go for a health care service or to pick up a prescription. A premium is what you each month to have insurance.

As an example, consider the differences in the bronze and platinum plans.

With a bronze plan:

The amount you pay each time you see your doctor or get a prescription (your "out-of-pocket" costs) is the highest among the different plan levels.  But, with a bronze plan, you also generally pay the lowest premium each month compared to other metal plans.

With a platinum plan:

Compared to the other plan levels, you are likely to pay less each time you see your doctor or get a prescription. But with a platinum plan, you'll also pay the highest monthly premium.

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