Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum make up the metal tiers. Bronze plans have the lowest premium but the highest prices for care. On the other end of the spectrum, Platinum plans have the highest premiums, but the lowest care prices.
Catastrophic plans are another type of coverage. These plans generally have the the lowest premiums and extremely high costs. The name comes from the basic idea that, outside of catastrophe, you bear much of the cost of care.
Which metal tier is right for me?
Platinum might be the best fit if you frequently need medical care and prescriptions. Gold is second to Platinum with a high premium and low need costs. Silver's pricing sits in the middle for both the premium and need-based costs; however, Silver plans can sometimes save you even more money than Bronze plans. Silver tier plans allow you to qualify for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), which can help save on other out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays and co-insurance.
The Break Down
Platinum: Has the Highest premium but the lowest cost per need. Estimation: Provider pays for 90% of care.
Gold: Has a High premium but a low cost per need. Estimation: Provider pays for 80% of care
Silver: Has a Middle range premium and a middle range cost per need. However, it allows you to qualify for cost-sharing reductions. Estimation: Provider pays for 70% of care
Bronze: Has a low premium but a high cost per need. Estimation: Provider pays for 60% of care
Catastrophic: Has a low premium but very high cost for care. Annual deductible for out-of-pocket expenses: $9,100 for an individual in 2023.
While they cover all 10 Essential Health Benefits outlined by the Affordable Care Act, Catastrophic plans exist outside the metal tier framework and have eligibility requirements. You must be under 30 years old or else prove you are experiencing financial or other challenges that qualify you for this plan type (officially referred to as "affordability and hardship exemptions"). Catastrophic plans are also not eligible for government subsidies like premium tax credits.