For the 2017 coverage year, consumers in 39 states can use HealthCare.gov to shop for qualified health plans (QHPs) (referred to here as “plans”). As with most health insurance options, plans offered through HealthCare.gov require consumers to pay for a portion of the health care services they receive, called cost sharing. These cost-sharing provisions typically include an annual deductible, co-pays, and/or co-insurance. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) limits the maximum amount that a plan can require a consumer to pay for these out-of-pocket costs each year.
To illustrate how cost-sharing expenses vary around the country, this ACA Spotlight displays by county the median medical deductible and median out-of-pocket limit for plans offered in each of the plan categories on HealthCare.gov in 2017.
|State||Marketplace Type*||Enrollment Website**|
|Alabama||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Alaska||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Arizona||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Arkansas||State-Based Marketplace-Federal Reform||healthcare.gov|
|District of Columbia||State-Based Marketplace||dchealthlink.com|
|Florida||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Georgia||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Hawaii||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Indiana||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Kansas||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Kentucky||State-Based Marketplace-Federal Reform||kynect.ky.gov|
|Louisiana||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Maine||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Mississippi||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Missouri||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Montana||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Nebraska||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Nevada||State-Based Marketplace-Federal Reform||healthcare.gov|
|New Hampshire||State-Partnership Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|New Jersey||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|New Mexico||State-Based Marketplace-Federal Reform||healthcare.gov|
|New York||State-Based Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|North Carolina||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|North Dakota||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Ohio||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Oklahoma||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Oregon||State-Based Marketplace-Federal Reform||healthcare.gov|
|Pennsylvania||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Rhode Island||State-Based Marketplace||healthsourceri.com|
|South Carolina||Federally-facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|South Dakota||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Tennessee||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Texas||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Utah||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Virginia||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|West Virginia||State-Partnership Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Wisconsin||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
|Wyoming||Federally Facilitated Marketplace||healthcare.gov|
* See Kaiser Family Foundation here.
** See healthcare.gov here.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) established health insurance marketplaces for individuals and families to purchase and enroll in qualified health plans (QHPs). As of April 2017, 39 states use the Federally Facilitated Marketplace at HealthCare.gov for their residents to purchase and enroll in plans, while the remaining 11 states plus the District of Columbia use State-Based Marketplaces. As with most health insurance options, plans offered through HealthCare.gov require consumers to pay for a portion of the health care services they receive, called cost sharing. These cost-sharing provisions include:
- Deductibles: The amount a consumer owes for covered health care services before the insurer begins to pay for any expenses. Plans pay for certain health care services before the consumer has met the deductible, such as preventive services.
- Copayments: A fixed amount (for example, $20) a consumer pays for a covered health care service, usually at the time of service. The amount can vary by the type of health care service.
- Co-insurance: A consumer’s share of the costs of a covered health care service, calculated as a set percentage (for example, 20%) of the allowed amount for the service. A consumer starts paying co-insurance after meeting the deductible.
Consumers pay their portion of cost sharing for covered services they receive in addition to their monthly premiums; generally, consumers will pay higher premiums for plans that require less cost sharing and lower premiums for plans that require more cost sharing.
The out-of-pocket limit for a plan caps what the consumer has to pay for services covered by the plan and received by in-network providers during a plan’s policy period (usually one year). After a consumer reaches this amount, the plan will pay the entire cost of most covered services for the rest of the policy period. This includes deductible expenses and may also include cost-sharing expenses that occur after the deductible is met (like copayment and co-insurance expenses). For 2017 coverage offered through HealthCare.gov, the maximum out-of-pocket limit is $7,150 for an individual plan and $14,300 for a family plan.
Those with a silver plan from HealthCare.gov and income between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) may qualify for cost-sharing reductions (CSR), a discount that lowers the amount a consumer pays toward cost sharing. Cost-sharing reductions lower eligible consumers’ costs by increasing the share of costs the silver plan insurer pays. Without cost-sharing reductions, insurers pay about 70% of the costs for services covered under a silver plan. With cost-sharing reductions, the amount of cost-sharing reduction is based on income level:
- Consumers with incomes between 100% and 150% FPL qualify for 94% cost-sharing reductions, meaning the silver plan will pay 94% of the cost of covered services on average.
- Consumers with incomes between 150% and 200% FPL qualify for 87% cost-sharing reductions, meaning the silver plan will pay 87% of the cost of covered services on average.
- Consumers with incomes between 200% and 250% FPL qualify for 73% cost-sharing reductions, meaning the silver plan will pay 73% of the cost of covered services on average.
The plan categories are based on the percentage of cost for services covered under a plan that the insurer will pay for on average, but how those out-of-pocket costs are distributed among types of cost sharing can vary significantly from plan to plan. For example:
- One silver level plan may have a $1,750 deductible, $1 copay for physician visits, and no cost-sharing for inpatient care after the deductible is met.
- Meanwhile, another silver plan may have a $200 deductible, but a $10 copay for physician visits, and a $600 copay or 30% co-insurance for inpatient care after the deductible is met.
The specific out-of-pocket costs a consumer will pay under any plan will depend on the health care services the consumer uses in a year. Therefore, consumers cannot rely on the selection of a plan within a certain plan category to accurately predict how much they will ultimately spend; to get a somewhat accurate prediction, they must consider what health services they typically use and then consider a plan’s cost-sharing arrangement. HealthCare.gov includes tools to help consumers make these estimates.
This ACA Spotlight illustrates how cost sharing varies among HealthCare.gov’s 2017 plan choices by county. Users first select among one of the plan categories: catastrophic, bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. They then select from among the median for an individual’s medical deductible, a family’s medical deductible, an individual’s out-of-pocket limit, or a family’s out-of-pocket limit. For the silver plan category, users can choose to display median deductibles or out-of-pocket limits offset by cost-sharing reductions. These cost-sharing reduction variants are referred to as 94% CSR, 87% CSR, and 73% CSR.
Social Interest Solutions (SIS) produced the data and infographics using the MAGI Cloud platform. The MAGI Cloud platform includes a comprehensive rules engine that can generate ACA eligibility results across all states and across the full spectrum of health insurance options, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and QHPs with and without premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction subsidies. To learn more about the MAGI Cloud platform, click here.
The MAGI Cloud platform uses HealthCare.gov 2017 plan data to determine the median medical deductible or median out-of-pocket limit among the plans within a specified plan category offered in a county, based on the cost-sharing parameter selected. This ACA Spotlight provides data on all 39 states for which consumers can use HealthCare.gov to shop for 2017 plans. Catastrophic and/or platinum plans are not offered in certain areas.
Data used in this Spotlight are available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families
- The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation