You have choices when you shop for health insurance. If you're buying from your state's Marketplace, the first way you'll see health plans organized is by their level of care: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Bronze plans have the least coverage and platinum plans have the most. If you are under 30, you may also see a high-deductible, catastrophic plan listed.
How are the plans different? Each one pays a set share of costs for the average enrolled person. The details can vary across plans.
- Platinum: covers 90% of your medical costs; you pay 10%
- Gold: covers 80% of your medical costs; you pay 20%
- Silver: covers 70% of your medical costs; you pay 30%
- Bronze: covers 60% of your medical costs; you pay 40%
- Catastrophic: This plan only covers your medical expenses after you have reached the annual deductible of $6,350 for an individual or $12,700 for a family. Catastrophic plans must also cover the first three primary care visits and preventive care for free, even if you have not yet met your deductible.
You will also see insurance brands associated with the care levels. Some large national brands include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser, and United. If you are buying insurance from your employer, the brand name might be the first category you see.
Each insurance brand may offer one or more of these four common types of plans:
- Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
- Preferred provider organizations (PPOs)
- Point-of-service (POS) plans
- High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) linked to health savings accounts (HSAs)
Take a minute to learn how these plans differ. Being familiar with the plan types can help you pick one to fit your budget and meet your health care needs. To learn the specifics about a brand's particular health plan, look at its summary of benefits.