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Silver plan

What is a Silver plan?

Under the Affordable Care Act, individual/family (self-purchased) and small group plans are classified by metal levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

The classification depends on the actuarial value of the plan, which measures the percentage of medical costs that the plan would cover for a standard population. Silver plans normally have an actuarial value of about 70% (ranging from 66% to 72%). 

But the ACA’s cost-sharing reductions (CSR, also called cost-sharing subsidies) are only available on Silver plans. If a person qualifies for CSR benefits and selects a Silver plan, the plan’s actuarial value will be increased to 73%, 87%, or 94%, depending on the person’s household income. 

Silver plans play a particularly important role in the individual health insurance market. The ACA’s premium subsidies (premium tax credits) are based on the cost of the benchmark plan, which is defined as the second-lowest-cost Silver plan in a given area. (Subsidies can be used to offset the cost of any metal-level plan.)

How many marketplace enrollees have Silver plans?

Silver plans are by far the most popular metal level among marketplace enrollees. During the open enrollment period for 2022 health coverage, nearly 8.2 million people enrolled in Silver plans, out of a total of 14.5 million marketplace enrollees.

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