The Kaiser Family Foundation is pointing out that roughly a quarter of the currently uninsured could qualify for a $0 premium Bronze plan or better on Healthcare.gov
NEW analysis: Rather than continuing to go without insurance, *4.2 million* uninsured people could get an #ACA bronze plan for FREE
— Cynthia Cox (@cynthiaccox) December 11, 2018
Bronze ain’t bad for a guaranteed issue, community rated plan.
Bronze plans have high deductibles and out of pocket limits with comparatively lower premiums. They can be very good plans for two cohorts of people.
People who have low expected healthcare costs will be faced with paying premiums for their choices. If their options are a $6,700 deductible Bronze Plan or a $1,500 deductible, $5,000 Maximum out of pocket Gold plan as the next best alternative, the first $1,500 in expenses will be treated the same by both plans. We looked at zones of superiority last week, and this is the minimal inner edge of the Bronze zone of superiority where the next best alternative’s deductible is the same as the Bronze deductible. The zone’s inner edge will vary by the difference in net premium between plans and how the non-deductible cost-sharing is structured.
The outer edge of the zone of superiority is where the known costs are so high that any plan will be hitting their out of pocket maximum. A million dollar year will max out every plan. And then the decision process is a simple linear optimization to minimize total costs (premiums and out of pocket expenses) subject to a network constraint.
These conditions are fairly clear and likely (but not guaranteed) to create at least small zones where Bronze plans can be superior to higher actuarial value plans for non-subsidized buyers. The premium differentials can effectively create these zones.
However on-Exchange, the subsidy dynamics will greatly shrink or eliminate the Bronze zone of superiority. Alfalfa County, Oklahoma has $0 Gold plans for all subsidy eligible adults. At all expense levels, the Gold plan has net equal or lower costs for subsidized adults compared to Bronze or Silver plans.
This is an extreme example.
Bronze, in the right situation, is not bad. Don’t discount it as you look for your plans before this Saturday.