Choosing a health insurance plan can be complicated. Knowing just a few things before you compare plans can make it simpler.
The 4 “metal” categories: There are 4 categories of health insurance plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. These categories show how you and your plan share costs. Plan categories have nothing to do with quality of care.
Your total costs for health care: You pay a monthly bill to your insurance company (a “premium”), even if you don’t use medical services that month. You pay out-of-pocket costs, including a deductible, when you get care. It’s important to think about both kinds of costs when shopping for a plan.
Plan and network types — HMO, PPO, POS, and EPO: Some plan types allow you to use almost any doctor or health care facility. Others limit your choices or charge you more if you use providers outside their network.
Remember that plans also may differ in quality. For the 2017 plan year, HealthCare.gov is introducing a pilot program to present health insurance plan quality ratings (or ‘star’ ratings) for some plans. Plans in Virginia and Wisconsin will feature the quality ratings this year. Learn more about quality ratings.