It's been about a week since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published the official 2024 ACA Open Enrollment Period Public Use Files, and I'm still digging through the mountain of data & demographics.

Today I want to address the question of Actuarial Value (AV)...that is, what percent of medical expenses (in aggregate) a given healthcare policy actually pays for. As a quick reminder, ACA policies are generally broken into four AV categories, labeled by metal levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, which generally cover roughly 60%, 70%, 80% or 90% of enrollees in-network medical expenses per year (there's a fifth category in front of Bronze called Catastrophic plans, but these have limited eligibility and hardly anyone enrolls in them anyway).

I say generally because there's a bit of wiggle room here: of 2023, the de minimus range has been reduced, imposing the following actuarial value ranges for metal-level plans:

Platinum Blonde

In the United States, major medical insurance policies for those who don't have healthcare coverage through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, the Veteran's Administration or some other source are available via the ACA's individual market exchanges. The individual market for residents of 36 states is HealthCare.Gov; the remaining 14 states + DC each have their own ACA exchange, such as Covered California, NY State of Health and so forth.

There are usually dozens of ACA policies available via the ACA exchanges, but they fall into five major categories: Catastrophic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum plans (other major distinctions include HMOs vs. PPOs and other variables,but those are for another day).

With rare exceptions, Catastrophic plans are only available to enrollees under 30 years old. ACA premium subsidies can't be used to help pay for Catastrophic plans either, so enrollment is rare; during the 2020 Open Enrollment Period, only 89,000 ACA exchange enrollees selected Catastrophic plans out of over 11.4 million total, or just 0.8%.