(Bloomberg) – Public health insurance exchange users are flocking to mid-level silver plans.
Only 19 percent are choosing the low-value bronze plans, and 7 percent are choosing top-value platinum plans. Twelve percent are signing up for gold plans, and 62 are enrolling in silver plans.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires exchange plans, or “qualified health plans” (QHPs), to cover set percentages of the actuarial value of a basic package of essential health benefits.
The percentages are about 60 percent for bronze plans, 70 percent for silver plans, 80 percent for gold plans and 90 percent for platinum plans.
The strong interest in silver plans may be good news for insurers, because it reduces the odds that budget-conscious consumers will pick the plans with the cheapest premiums, then discover that they can’t handle the low-actuarial-value plans’ out-of-pocket costs, according to Michael Mahoney of GoHealth LLC.
GoHealth is running a private Web-based enrollment site.
The exchange program makes cost-sharing subsidies available for low-income consumers who buy silver plans.
Bronze plans can have deductibles of up to $6,000 per person.
“It’s too risky to take on that exposure if you don’t have that kind of money,” Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a telephone interview.