How to choose Marketplace insurance

Marketplace insurance categories

The health plan category you choose determines how you and your plan share the costs of care. These categories have nothing to do with the quality or amount of care you get.

There are 5 categories or “metal levels” of coverage in the Marketplace. Plans in each category pay different amounts of the total costs of an average person’s care. This takes into account the plans’ monthly premiums, deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums. The actual percentage you’ll pay in total or per service will depend on the services you use during the year.

  • Bronze: Your health plan pays 60% on average. You pay about 40%.
  • Silver: Your health plan pays 70% on average. You pay about 30%.
  • Gold: Your health plan pays 80% on average. You pay about 20%.
  • Platinum: Your health plan pays 90% on average. You pay about 10%.
  • Catastrophic: Catastrophic coverage plans pay less than 60% of the total average cost of care on average. They’re available only to people who are under 30 years old or have a hardship exemption.

See all plans and prices available to you in each category. Prices include any savings you may qualify for based on your income estimate.

What to consider when choosing a plan category

Think about your health care needs when choosing a category of Marketplace plan.

  • If you expect a lot of doctor visits or need regular prescriptions: You may want a Gold plan or Platinum plan. These plans generally have higher monthly premiums but pay more of your costs when you need care.

  • If you don’t expect to use regular medical services and don’t take regular prescriptions: You may want a Silver, Bronze, or Catastrophic plan. These plans cost you less per month, but pay less of your costs when you need care.

  • If you qualify to save on out-of-pocket costs: Silver plans may offer the best value. You may qualify for lower out-of-pocket costs based on your household size and income. If you do, you can get these out-of-pocket savings only if you enroll in a Silver plan. If you make this choice you'll basically get the lower out-of-pocket costs of a Gold or Platinum plan while paying a Silver plan premium.

  • If you’re under 30 or have a hardship exemption and want low monthly premiums: You may want to choose a catastrophic plan designed to protect you from worst-case scenarios, like serious accidents or diseases.

Of course, it’s impossible to predict all your health care needs for the year ahead. Pick a plan that fits your budget and meets your and your family’s expected needs.