Which health insurance plan is best? Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum?
Answer: It depends on what you need.
In Maine and New Hampshire there are no Platinum plans available. Gold plans are the most expensive, Silver comes next and Bronze premiums will be lowest.
All of these plans will cover all essential benefits, but the priciest will pay a larger share of your expenses.
If you expect that, over the course of the year, you will be visiting several specialists, having a baby, buying expensive prescription drugs, or undergoing some costly treatments or surgeries, a gold plan might well be worth the higher premium.
But, on the other hand, if you rarely go to the doctor and – barring an accident – don’t expect to need much healthcare, a Bronze plan might well be a fine option for you.
If your income makes you eligible for a tax credit to help cover your premiums, when the government calculates your subsidy, it will assume that you are buying a Silver plan. If you choose Gold, you will have to make up the difference yourself.
But if you buy a Bronze plan, you’ll still be able to apply the same subsidy to your plan, which can make Bronze plans particularly inexpensive for some enrollees.
The caveat is that Bronze plans also come with the highest out-of-pocket exposure. So compare the plans closely because the deductible could be considerably lower on the Silver plan.
If your income doesn’t exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level, you’re also eligible for cost-sharing subsidies, but those are only available on Silver plans.
Cost-sharing subsidies improve the benefits of the plan, reducing the deductible and overall out-of-pocket costs that insureds pay if they have a claim.
If your income makes you eligible for a cost-sharing subsidy, you’ll almost certainly get the best value with a Silver plan.