Gold, Silver, and Bronze ACA Metal Levels

Couple speaking to advisor about metal levels

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is a landmark health care program that has led to over 31 million Americans getting health insurance. Naturally, the health insurance plans offered by such a large bill can get complicated.

If you are thinking about enrolling in an Affordable Care Act insurance plan, then it will be important to know about the way that plans are differentiated. ACA plans are separated into three “metal levels”: bronze, silver, and gold. Different plan levels have different costs, risks, and benefits associated with them.

Things that stay the same

Despite their differences, there are several things that don’t change between metal levels. The following aspects are not affected by the metal level of an ACA-compliant health insurance plan:

  • -The quality of care received
  • -Access to Essential Health Benefits (Though the cost associated with them may vary)
  • -What hospitals, doctors, etc. are within the coverage area (In-Network vs. Out-of-Network)
  • -The cost of guaranteed preventive care services (see a full list of preventive care services).
  • -Any other benefits not associated with cost 

Bronze

Bronze plans are some of the cheapest health insurance plans in the Marketplace, in terms of monthly premiums. These plans tend to have high deductibles, high max-out-of-pockets, and expensive copays (or, more often, no copays) before the deductible is reached. 

The other side of this is that bronze plans are very, very cheap. Average bronze plan premiums are over $100/month lower than average silver premiums. Subsidies can take that even lower; in the U.S. right now, 2 out of every 5 uninsured people qualify for a $0 bronze health insurance plan after subsidies are applied.

Silver

Silver plans are a midpoint between bronze and gold plans. They are more expensive per month than bronze plans. When you need to use them, however, their deductibles are lower, and their copays are cheaper. Not as low as gold plans, of course, but lower than bronze. A middle ground.

There is one aspect of silver plans that makes them more popular than they might otherwise be: Cost Sharing Reduction.

Cost Sharing Reduction

Cost Sharing Reductions, sometimes called “extra savings,” are a type of discount that people at or under a certain income threshold can apply to their ACA insurance costs. A Cost Sharing Reduction can potentially lower the costs of your deductible, coinsurance, and/or copayments. It can even lower your maximum-out-of-pocket, after which your insurance will cover 100% of the costs.

To qualify for cost sharing reduction, your household income must be within 250% of the Federal Poverty Level and you must have a silver level Marketplace plan.

Gold

Gold plans are the cream of the crop for ACA insurance plans. They have the highest monthly premiums of any ACA plans; on average, they cost $200/month more than comparable bronze plans. For that extra money, though, they provide much more comprehensive support.

Most gold plans have much lower deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and max-out-of-pocket costs than other Marketplace plans. Some of these plans may even have $0 deductibles or copay/coinsurance before you reach your deductible.

The premiums on gold plans are going to be high for anybody, even after premiums. However, if you expect to have a lot of medical expenses, then they can be well worth the price.

Get Help Finding a Plan

If you are looking for an insurance plan and are not sure what metal level is right for you, then fill out our quote form and let Apollo help you. We have over 10 years of experience navigating ACA/Obamacare insurance plans, so we can help you take on anything. Alternatively, call 346-971-4814 to speak to an agent today.

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