Affordable Care Act

What Is a Bronze Health Plan?

Published on January 30, 2019

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When it is time to choose a healthcare plan on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, you have a number of options that balance monthly premiums against potential out of pocket costs. These plans are broken into tiers and then assigned a metallic level: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. A Bronze health plan is the lowest level plan and comes with the cheapest monthly premiums. While it can be tempting to go straight for the plan that costs the least per month, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing which metal level is the right one for you.

What is a Bronze health plan?

A Bronze health plan is the lowest of the plan levels. It typically offers the lowest monthly premiums, but costs the most out of pocket if you end up needing health care. It’s important to consider how much you anticipate using your health coverage when you are shopping for the right metal level for yourself and your family.

What is included in a Bronze health plan?

Like all ACA-compliant health plans, a Bronze plan includes a range of preventive care without additional costs in the form of coinsurance or copays. Examples of free preventive care includes:

  • check ups.
  • certain diagnostic screenings such as blood pressure screenings and mammograms.
  • diet counseling for individuals at risk for chronic disease.
  • fall prevention for adults 65 and over.
  • immunizations.
  • certain preventive medicines, such as aspirin or statins.

Additionally, a Bronze health plan must also include the 10 essential coverages identified under the ACA. These services may come with coinsurance or copays. They include:

  • Prescription drug coverage. There will typically be a flat out of pocket rate for covered medications.
  • Preventive, wellness, and chronic disease management.
  • Pediatric coverage: a Bronze health plan for children include vision, dental, and medical.
  • Emergency services such as ER visits. These will typically have a large copay or coinsurance fee.
  • Hospitalization. While there will be out of pocket costs, insurance takes over after a certain point.
  • Mental health and addiction coverage. All health plans are required to offer these services.
  • Pregnancy and maternity care.
  • Ambulatory services, which refers to procedures performed on an outpatient basis.
  • Laboratory services.
  • Rehabilitative or habilitative services and devices. These include services like speech or physical therapy.

Your health insurance plan may, at the insurance company’s option, include other coverages in addition to the essential coverages listed above. Check with plan details to learn more about what is offered with this sort of plan.

How much will a Bronze health plan pay?

Each of the health plan metal levels pay a different percentage of the cost of medical care. On Healthcare.gov, they estimate the percentages as the following:

Plan Category  The insurance company pays   Insured pays 
Bronze 60% 40%
Silver 70% 30%
Gold 80% 20%
Platinum 90% 10%

Can you get subsidies with a Bronze health plan?

When you get a Bronze health plan, you are eligible for premium subsidies, which are paid as a tax credit. However, you will not be eligible for other cost saving subsidies with a Bronze health plan, such as the cost-sharing subsidy. The lowest level of plan eligible for this subsidy is the Silver health plan.

Who should consider a Bronze health plan?

A Bronze health plan is a good fit for some individuals and a poor fit for others. The low monthly premium cost from a Bronze health plan can be a boon to younger individuals who do not anticipate using their health plan very much. The included preventive care can mean catching any potential health problems early, so people with Bronze health plans can still plan to stay healthy. And, the lower premium from a Bronze health plan means more money in your pocket each month.
However, if you are at risk for chronic illnesses or if you are older, a Bronze health plan can wind up costing more in the end. A Bronze health plan typically has very high out of pocket costs before the insurance company starts chipping in. As a result, serious medical events can leave the person who is insured with far higher costs. So if you expect to be consistently using your health plan, you may want something with a higher monthly premium, but lower costs elsewhere (like in your deductible, out-of-pocket maximum, etc).
Every individual’s situation is different, and because of that eHealth offers free quotes for health insurance plans to make it easy on you. What works well for one person could result in far higher costs for someone else. Before buying a Bronze health plan or any other health plan, consult with a licensed insurance broker like eHealth.  At eHealth, we have a range of ACA plans from Bronze health plan level up to Platinum. We will work with you to find the health plan that best fits your needs.

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