A Gold Plan is a type of health insurance plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Gold plans usually have higher premiums but much better cost-sharing on average than Silver or Bronze health plans.
The Gold Plan offers the second lowest out-of-pocket costs among the standard Affordable Care Act plan types. Only the Platinum Plan offers lower out-of-pocket costs for a standard enrollee population. However, the actual deductibles and co-payments can vary considerably among individual Gold Plans.
The Gold Plan provides the same essential benefits as the other plan types. Essential benefits are the minimum services to be covered by an Affordable Care Act health insurance plan. However, individual plans do have the option of enhancing their benefits beyond the basic benefits required by the ACA. Gold Plans are required to cover 80% of the covered medical costs for a typical enrollee, with the remaining 20% paid by the enrollee. The 80% figure is based on the government’s expectation of healthcare usage. Depending on what services you use, this coverage may not exactly match 80% of medical costs. The 20% of healthcare costs paid by the enrollee would be in the form of out-of-pocket deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance fees. The monthly premium for the Gold Plan, however, is paid in addition to the out-of-pocket costs.
In Gold Plans, the insurance company pays 80% of covered healthcare expenses based on an average person’s expected use of healthcare services. The remaining 20% of expenses are paid out of pocket by the policyholder. Below are the average out-of-pocket cost-sharing expenses for medical services and prescription drugs found across gold plans.
|Cost-Sharing Category||Average for a Gold Plan|
|Deductible for an individual enrollee||$1,363|
|Deductible for a family||$2,900|
|Preferred brand drugs||$45.27|
|Non-preferred brand drugs||$94.02|
|Specialty drugs||38% of specialty drug expense charged to patient as coinsurance fee|
|Annual cap on out-of-pocket costs for an individual||$6,714|
|Annual cap on out-of-pocket costs for a family||$13,427|
The fundamental difference among the new Obamacare health plans is the percentage of covered medical costs paid by the health plan. The Gold Plan typically pays 80% of covered medical costs.
The monthly premium for a Gold Plan depends on the insurer from whom you purchase the plan, the number of people to be insured by the plan, your age, whether you smoke, and your geographic region. You can use HealthPocket’s comparison tool to compare Gold Plan premiums in your area.
A deductible is the amount a consumer pays for covered medical services. Individual Gold plan medical deductibles were $1,363 on average.
No. If an insurer is selling on-exchange, then the insurer must offer at least a Silver Plan and a Gold Plan. The same rules do not apply to health plans sold off-exchange.
Gold plans have the second highest premium rates of the four new types of metal plans since they charge the second lowest out-of-pocket costs. However, there may be instances where the Gold Plan for one insurance company may charge a lower premium than the Bronze or Silver Plan of another insurance company, as well as instances where the Platinum Plan for one insurance company may charge a lower premium than the Gold Plan of another insurance company. Comparing plans is essential for anyone trying to minimize their healthcare expenses. HealthPocket’s health insurance comparison tool allows people to compare all the plans available in their area.
Below are the average monthly premiums found for 2018, 2019, and 2020 Gold plans across states using the Healthcare.gov marketplace.
All metal plans including gold plans can be obtained through the Federally-facilitated marketplace or a state-based marketplace (also referred to as on-exchange) or through a private insurance company (also referred to as off-exchange). The exchange status of a plan does not impact whether or not it covers the ACA’s minimum essential health benefit requirements and all metal plans sold on- or off-exchange must meet these standards. Generally the benefits and cost-sharing of the same plan sold by the same insurer off-exchange are the same. Premiums are also typically similar, if not the same.
One of the issues that the government intends to monitor is whether Gold and Platinum plans attract more sickly enrollees and drive up premiums. The ACA provides some tools to address this issue (e.g. reinsurance, risk adjustment, and risk pooling) but it is impossible to tell whether these tools will be sufficient if these plans do attract a disproportionate representation of high-cost enrollees.