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Obamacare is like Dating Now and You Should Just Settle

After hours of scrolling through the healthcare marketplace abyss like it's some kind of dating app, I found the experts to be right: Just go for the bronze.
Image: Dana Kim

Three years ago, I remember scrolling through insurance plans on like a newly single 28-year-old on Tinder, equal parts curious and disgusted. I was newly uninsured and had to "get out there" or else I'd be shit out of luck if I fell into one of those sidewalk basements with the open hatch doors, which happens more than you'd think in New York.  Fast forward to our current open enrollment period—from now until January 31. We're going to see some changes in healthcare in the long run, but based the current thinking, most of those changes won't take place until 2018—so experts are advising us to proceed as normal. After some heavy post-election drinking to forget (and then subsequent panic over my battered liver and how much it would cost to fix it), I sat down for a cost analysis. Scrolling through the plans made it clear that if you're not a fucking Rockefeller or the founder of Roc-a-fella Records, the platinum and gold plans are out of reach.


That leaves the silver, bronze, and catastrophic options—that last term being particularly apropos, since dropping $200 every month for zero access to my therapist would cause me to pretty much lose my shit. The monthly premium for the catastrophic plan basically includes a once-a-year preventative visit and a high five, unless you reach the absurdly high out-of-pocket amount. Also, catastrophic insurance is only available for people under 30, which is messed up because brokeness—much like singledom—knows no age limits.

Now that premium costs are slated to rise (on average 11 percent higher for plans effective in 2017 and rising even higher in many parts of the country), experts assert that the out-of-pocket difference between a silver and a bronze plan is similar enough that fairly healthy people in their 20s and 30s should just opt for bronze and pay a lower monthly premium. Plus you generally have access to the same cohort of doctors. Across brands, bronze is underwhelming insurance that does the trick. If the bronze plan were a car, it would be a Toyota Corolla. If it were a bourbon, Jim Beam.

Here's how NPR explained it:

If you typically use minimal health care services, you may be willing to risk the higher deductible of a bronze plan, which is likely to top $5,700, compared with about $3,000 for a silver plan. (Overall, bronze plans pay 60 percent of health care expenses, on average, while silver plans pay 70 percent.) And if you have an expensive condition and know you're likely to blow through your deductible and hit your out-of-pocket spending limit for the year anyway, a bronze plan may also make financial sense.

While I'm no longer on the market, I've had a bronze plan for three years. It's kind of like dating that dude who doesn't make your toes curl but will help curl your hair when you can't reach that piece in the back. Bronze is reliable. It will cause you minimal drama. And when Trump forces us all to move, you can join me in remembering it as the one that got away.