​​Health Plans Available In The Health Insurance Marketplace.
By: Patrick Mansfield | U.S. Health Alerts

The Introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made health insurance available to virtually everyone. Those that were unable to obtain insurance previously can now purchase various plans via the Health Insurance Marketplace. 

This Marketplace allows for buyers of insurance to easily compare different plans so as to choose the most appropriate option. While there are differences amongst plans that will apply based on factors such as location, all plans under the Marketplace share some common features. The following will provide an overview of the plans offered under the ACA and describe the main aspects of these plans. 

These levels range from least expensive (bronze) to most expensive (platinum). The reason for these four metal levels is that under the Marketplace, there will generally be several insurance companies offering plans for sale; the plans of all companies must fall under one of the four categories and therefore, this allows for shoppers to have an "apples to apples" comparison of competing insurance plans.

Generally, the cheapest plan (bronze) will provide the least amount of services and perhaps more importantly, will require higher copays whereas the most expensive plan (platinum) will do the opposite. For example, under the bronze plan, one has to pay 40 percent of the medical costs whereas under the platinum plan, that amount is only 10 percent.

The deductible is also the highest under the bronze plan and gradually decreases with the more expensive plans. However, regardless of the plan, the maximum annual deductible is $6,350 for individual coverage and $12,700 for families.

Catastrophic plans are also available. However, they do not meet the minimum ACA requirements and are therefore only available to those under then age of 30 or those that are granted hardship exemptions.

Minimum Benefits

Regardless of the metal plan, all plans by law (except catastrophic plans) must provide certain minimum coverage to the insured. For example, many preventative care services, such as diabetes screenings, are fully covered. Additionally, other essential services, such as emergency care and inpatient care, are also offered under all plans. 

Deductibles, Copays and Coinsurance 

This refers to the costs of medical care that are borne by the insured. The exact amounts and percentages will differ based on the specific plans that are offered to someone. However, in general, the key factor is that the cheaper the metal plan is, the higher the costs that the insured must pay will be. 

Choosing the Best Plan 

The ACA provides everyone with the ability obtain reasonable health insurance plans and with the ability to choose the most suitable plan. While are there are four levels are that offered, there are differences between each level and there is no standard guideline that applies to everyone. However, the best way to make a decision is to balance the premiums with the expected level of care required. Lower premiums translate to high out-of-pocket expenses and lower overall coverage while higher premiums provide the best benefits. Therefore, those who either require or except to require a high amount of care should generally opt for the more expensive plans. Although the monthly premiums will be higher, there will be more benefits provided, which can result significant savings. On the other hand, those that are generally healthy may want to choose the cheaper plans. Although these plans comes with higher expenses potential expenses, they are partially offset by the lower premiums. Moreover, since the ACA requires a certain minimum amount of care under all metal plans, everyone can be assured that certain essential services will always be covered.
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