You have choices when you shop for health insurance. If you're buying from your state's Marketplace or from an insurance broker, you'll choose from health plans organized by the level of benefits they offer: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Bronze plans have the least coverage, and platinum plans have the most. If you are under 30, you may also be able to buy a high-deductible, catastrophic plan.
How are the plans different? Each one pays a set share of costs for the average enrolled person. The details can vary across plans. In addition, deductibles -- the amount you pay before your plan picks up 100% of your health care costs -- vary according to plan, with the least expensive carrying the highest deductible.
Platinum: covers 90% on average of your medical costs; you pay 10%
Gold: covers 80% on average of your medical costs; you pay 20%
Silver: covers 70% on average of your medical costs; you pay 30%
Bronze: covers 60% on average of your medical costs; you pay 40%
Catastrophic: Catastrophic policies pay less than 60% of the total average cost of care. Catastrophic plans must also cover the first three primary care visits and preventive care for free, even if you have not yet met your deductible.
You will also see insurance brands associated with the care levels. Some large national brands include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser, and United.