What do the coverage levels mean?
The difference among these coverage tiers rests with their "actuarial" value -- in other words, how much a plan will cover before the patient must chip in for co-insurance, deductibles and co-payments.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the actuarial values for the four levels of coverage are:
Bronze: 60 percent.
Silver: 70 percent.
Gold: 80 percent.
Platinum: 90 percent.
For example, someone who gets a silver plan would have to pay 30 percent of health care costs, while the plan covers 70 percent. Most Americans will be required to get at least a bronze-level plan, according to Kaiser, unless they're eligible for a religious or hardship exemption.
All plans, whether bronze, silver, gold or platinum, will cover certain essential health benefits determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, such as ambulatory services, emergency care, maternity care and prescription drugs.