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If you bought a health insurance plan through the Marketplace in 2013/4 open enrollment period, you’ll need to decide whether to renew your current plan or change plans for 2014/5. If you are purchasing a plan for the first time, the options can seem overwhelming and you may not know where to start.

It’s important to compare health plans because new and more affordable plans may be available this year and you want to choose what works best for you and/or your family.

Here are some things to consider as you compare plans:

  1. Are there more affordable plans available this year?Plans are grouped into four categories – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum – and the category you choose affects how much your premium costs each month, what portion of the bill you pay for things like prescriptions and hospital visits, and total out-of-pocket costs.
  1. Do you or your family qualify for federal financial assistance, called a subsidy, to help pay for a plan?This subsidy may come in the form of a premium tax credit, which reduces your premium payment. Subsidies are only available through the Individual Marketplace. While you don’t have to use the Marketplace to buy insurance, you should fill out an application to see if you qualify for a subsidy. If you do qualify, you must buy a plan from the Marketplace to receive it.

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