Plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace are presented in 4 “metal” categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. (“Catastrophic” plans are also available to some people.)

FYI Metal categories are based on how you and your plan split the costs of your health care. They have nothing to do with quality of care.

How you and your insurance plan split costs

Estimated averages for a typical population. Your costs will vary.
Plan Category The insurance company pays You pay

Bronze

60%

40%

Silver

70%

30%

Gold

80%

20%

Platinum

90%

10%

Which metal category is right for you?

Bronze

  • Lowest monthly premium
  • Highest costs when you need care
  • Bronze plan deductibles — the amount of medical costs you pay yourself before your insurance plan starts to pay — can be thousands of dollars a year.
  • Good choice if: You want a low-cost way to protect yourself from worst-case medical scenarios, like serious sickness or injury. Your monthly premium will be low, but you’ll have to pay for most routine care yourself.

Silver

  • Moderate monthly premium
  • Moderate costs when you need care
  • Silver deductibles — the costs you pay yourself before your plan pays anything — are usually lower than those of Bronze plans.

IMPORTANT: If you qualify for “extra savings” on your deductible, copayment, and coinsurance (sometimes called “cost-sharing reductions”) you must pick a Silver plan to get the extra savings. You can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year if you use a lot of care.

  • Good choice if: You qualify for “extra savings” — or, if not, if you’re willing to pay a slightly higher monthly premium than Bronze to have more of your routine care covered.

Gold

  • High monthly premium
  • Low costs when you need care
  • Deductibles — the amount of medical costs you pay yourself before your plan pays — are usually low.
  • Good choice if: You’re willing to pay more each month to have more costs covered when you get medical treatment. If you use a lot of care, a Gold plan could be a good value.

Platinum

  • Highest monthly premium
  • Lowest costs when you get care
  • Deductibles are very low, meaning your plan starts paying its share earlier than for other categories of plans.
  • Good choice if: You usually use a lot of care and are willing to pay a high monthly premium, knowing nearly all other costs will be covered.

Find out how to use total costs of care to pick a category and plan that work for you.

Note: Plans in all categories provide free preventive care, and some offer selected free or discounted services before you meet your deductible.

Your premium can be lower, based on your income

No matter which metal category you choose, you can save a lot of money on your monthly premium based on your income.

When you fill out a Marketplace insurance application, you’ll find out if you qualify for these savings. Learn how you can save on your monthly insurance bill with a premium tax credit.

You can do a quick check now to see if your income’s in the range to qualify.

Catastrophic health plans

Catastrophic health insurance plans have low monthly premiums and a very high deductible — $6,850. They may be an affordable way to protect yourself from worst-case scenarios, like getting seriously sick or injured. You pay most routine medical expenses yourself.

If you’re eligible to buy a Catastrophic plan, you’ll see them displayed when you apply and compare plans in the Marketplace.

See details about Catastrophic health plans

How much you pay
Monthly premiums are usually low, but you can’t use a premium tax credit to reduce your monthly cost for a Catastrophic plan. If you qualify for a premium tax credit based on your income, either a Bronze or Silver plan could be a better value. Be sure to compare.
Catastrophic plans cover less than 60% of your total costs of care. You pay more than 40%.
Who can buy one
Only people under 30 and people of any age with a hardship exemption from the requirement to have health insurance.
Covered care
Catastrophic plans cover certain preventive services at no cost and at least 3 primary care visits per year. You have to pay all other medical costs yourself until you reach your deductible –$6,850 in 2016. After that, the plan pays 100% of covered services.