When applying for health insurance, you’ll notice that there are metal levels that separate plans—bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. These levels don’t mean one plan is better than the other. Each plan must cover minimum essential benefits and meet standards set by the Affordable Care Act. The levels actually represent the actuarial value. However, there are benefits to choosing a silver plan.
What makes the silver metal level unique?
Like all metal levels, silver plans offer access to subsidies and can reduce the cost of monthly premiums. The unique part is that people who enroll in a silver plan and are eligible for cost-sharing reductions will automatically receive a version of the plan with reduced cost-sharing charges. This means lower deductibles, lower out-of-pocket maximums, and lower copays. Unlike subsidies, these cost-sharing reductions are not administered as a tax credit and thus don’t have to be reconciled when filing taxes.
Can I get cost-sharing reductions with a different metal level?
Unfortunately, cost-sharing reductions are not available if you sign up for a different metal level. For example, imagine you wanted to sign up for a bronze plan rather than a silver plan. The bronze plan’s actuarial value is lower, but so are the premiums. However, when you begin signing up for a plan, you will not receive cost-sharing reductions. This means that your deductible, out-of-pocket maximum, and copay will not be lowered. So, choosing a silver plan with cost sharing reductions may end up being less expensive in the long run.
Do I still have options if I choose a silver plan?
Yes. When you sign up for a silver plan, you still have options. You will be given a range of plans from different companies to choose from. Each insurance company may even have multiple silver metal level plans available. And don’t forget to review each plan’s benefits. Different plans will have differing benefits—the network of doctors and hospitals, visit limits, and drug formularies will vary.
How do I sign up for a silver plan?
Steps eligible people can take to select a plan with cost-sharing reductions:
- Apply for health insurance
- Receive determination that you are eligible for a subsidy
- Site will display various silver plan options with cost-sharing benefits built in
- Choose a silver level plan that suits your needs
Where can I find help?
If the process for choosing a plan with cost-sharing reductions seems complicated or overwhelming, don’t worry. HealthMarkets has licensed health insurance agents available to help. And don’t fret about any extra cost. Our service is free.