What is Silver Plan Health Insurance?

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A Silver plan is a type of health insurance that has affordable rates and average costs when you visit the doctor. Silver health plans offer a good balance between rates and coverage making them a good choice for most people.

With Silver health insurance, you can qualify for government subsidies that help pay for your medical bills if you earn a low income, called cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). No other plan tier is eligible for reductions.

What is a Silver health care plan?

Silver-level health plans have affordable rates and average costs that you pay when you get medical care.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obamacare, organized five plan tiers for health insurance: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Catastrophic. These plan levels set how much you can expect to pay for your monthly rate versus your out-of-pocket costs, such as your deductible , copays and coinsurance.

These plan tiers don't have anything to do with the quality or amount of services you get. In other words, a Platinum plan doesn't offer higher quality care than a Bronze plan.

Look for a plan that meets your specific needs. Most people wouldn't benefit from a Platinum plan because it costs so much per month. But, the low costs you pay when you visit the doctor may make it worthwhile if you have a serious or ongoing illness.

For most people, however, Silver plans offer the best combination of low monthly rates and affordable costs when you see a doctor. Also, you can qualify for special subsidies that help you pay for the part of your medical bill that you're responsible for, called cost-sharing reductions, if you have a Silver health plan and you earn a low-income.

You can't get cost-sharing reductions with other plan tiers.

What's the average cost of a Silver health plan?

Silver health plans cost $584 on average for a 40-year-old.

Factors like the company you buy your plan from, your location and your age will all influence your health insurance quotes.

It's a good idea to shop around for health insurance. You can easily save hundreds of dollars a year or more by picking a cheap option.

Average cost of silver health insurance by company

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Silver health plan cost vs. quality

Just because a plan costs more doesn't mean it's the best option. One of the top health insurance companies in the nation, Kaiser Permanente, charges just $481 per month on average for a Silver health plan.

In contrast, a Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Silver plan costs $603 per month despite the company's average plan and customer service quality.

Silver health insurance costs by company

Monthly Cost
Kaiser Permanente$481

All costs are for a nonsmoking 40-year-old.

Where you live will have a big impact on your health insurance rates. For example, the average cost of a Silver health plan for a 40-year-old in Alaska is $948 per month while in New Hampshire it's $373 per month.

Typically, you'll pay less for health insurance when you're young and more as you grow older. On average, a 21-year-old will pay $457 per month for a Silver plan while a 60-year-old will pay $1,240 per month for the same coverage.

Silver plan costs by age

Monthly cost

If you make $37,650 ($78,000 for a family of four) or less, then you qualify for ACA marketplace subsidies, also called premium tax credits, which will lower your monthly rate.

Unlike cost-sharing reductions, you can use this discount for Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum plans.

How to find the best ACA plan for you

The best health insurance for you will depend mainly on your health and income. Most people have access to Bronze, Silver and Gold plans. Catastrophic and Platinum plans aren't available everywhere.

Even if you can buy a Catastrophic plan, it rarely makes sense to do so because the plan will only start coverage after you've paid a very high deductible. In most cases, you'll be better off with a Bronze or Silver plan with subsidies.

You should only consider a Platinum plan if you expect to need a lot of expensive medical care in the near future.

Silver vs bronze health plans

Bronze health plans usually have cheaper rates than Silver plans. That makes them a better choice if you don't qualify for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), and you're in good health.

However, Silver plans are usually a better option if you qualify for those cost reductions, or if you want to pay less when you visit the doctor.

Gold vs silver health plans

Consider a Gold plan if you want a plan that pays for more of your medical care, and you don't mind paying more in monthly rates. Otherwise, you're probably better off with a Silver health plan.

Silver health plans are supposed to have cheaper rates than Gold plans. But, in some cases, Silver plans are actually more expensive than Gold plans.

It's a good idea to check prices where you live to ensure you're getting the best deal.

Frequently asked questions

What is a Silver health plan?

Silver healths offer a combination of middle-of-the-road monthly rates and average costs when you visit the doctor. Unlike other plan tiers, if you earn $37,650 ($78,000 for a family of four) or less, you can qualify for extra subsidies, called cost-sharing reductions, that help you pay for your out-of-pocket costs.

Are silver health plans worth it?

Silver health plans are worth it if you are in good health or you qualify for cost-sharing reductions. You might be better off with a Gold or Platinum plan if you visit the hospital often or if you think you'll need high levels of medical care in the coming year.

A Bronze plan may be a better choice if you're in very good health and you don't qualify for income-based subsidies.

What is covered under an Obamacare Silver Plan?

Silver plans must cover outpatient care, emergency services, hospital services, prescription drugs, pediatric services, maternal care, pediatrics, mental health, substance abuse treatment and more, called minimum essential coverage areas.

Sources and methodology

Information about Affordable Care Act plan tiers is from HealthCare.gov. Average cost data came from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). We used plans and companies that had county-level data included in the CMS Crosswalk file. Data was also taken from state-run marketplace websites.

Editorial note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.