Understanding how the health care Marketplace works

The health care Marketplace (also called the Exchange) is where Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care plans are sold. You may also hear names like Exchange plans and Individual & Family plans. These are all ACA Marketplace health care plans that people can buy on their own, rather than through an employer or another government-run program, like Medicare or Medicaid.

What kind of UnitedHealthcare plans are on the health care Marketplace?

Plans on the health care Marketplace are categorized based on how you and your plan split the cost of your health care. They go by Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum — known as the “metal” categories. For 2024, UnitedHealthcare is offering ACA Marketplace plan options at the Bronze, Silver and Gold metal levels.

What do the different Marketplace ACA plan metal levels mean?

The metal level your plan aligns to will determine how much you’ll pay for your health care and how much coverage you’ll have — they don’t have anything to do with the quality or type of care you’ll get.  Each of our UnitedHealthcare plans is offered in one or more metal level so you have options of finding the right plan at the right price to fit your needs. 

Once you decide which metal level fits your lifestyle (and budget), you can compare the different benefits that come with each of our UnitedHealthcare plans within that metal level category. Which category below sounds most like you or your family?


You rarely see your doctor and want a low-cost way to help protect yourself from the cost of worst-case medical scenarios, like serious illness or injury. Your monthly premium will be low, but you’ll have to pay more when you get care. UnitedHealthcare Essential, Virtual First (Virtual Access in Maryland), Value and Copay Focus plans are available at the Bronze metal level.

Premium: Low

Copays & coinsurance: High

Deductible: High


You typically only see your doctor for your yearly physical. You might qualify for extra savings and premium tax credits — or if not, this plan may work for you if you're willing to pay a slightly higher monthly premium than Bronze to get more coverage. You’ll find out if you qualify for financial help during your Marketplace plan enrollment. UnitedHealthcare Virtual First (Virtual Access in Maryland), Value, Advantage and Copay Focus plans are available at the Silver metal level.

Premium: Moderate

Copays & coinsurance: Moderate

Deductible: Moderate


You see your doctor quite a bit during the year and you’re willing to pay more each month to pay less when you get care. UnitedHealthcare Value, Advantage and Copay Focus plans are available at the Gold metal level.

Premium: High

Copays & coinsurance: Moderate

Deductible: Moderate

What are cost-sharing reductions?

Cost-sharing reductions help lower the amount you pay for copays, coinsurance and deductibles. Keep an eye out for this icon when you shop for and enroll in a UnitedHealthcare Marketplace plan. We’ll help you know which plans offer this discount on out-of-pocket spending. If you qualify, you’ll pay less than you normally would for covered health benefits. You must be enrolled in a Silver plan to receive a CSR, if eligible.

Who’s a good fit to buy health plans on the health care Marketplace?

Almost anyone can get health coverage with an Individual & Family Marketplace plan. Great news, right? If you fit into one of these buckets, you’re in the right place.

  • I’m new to buying my own health insurance

  • I don’t get (or don’t want) health insurance through my employer

  • I’m self-employed

  • I’m not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid

What are all the ways I can save money on my health care Marketplace plan?

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) and Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, you might be able to pay much less for your 2024 health insurance costs.

When you go through our shopping and enrollment process, you’ll give an estimate of your income, as well as other household information. Then, we’ll give you a quote that outlines what level of subsidy you may qualify for. The 2 different types of subsidies are a premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions. We’ll help you find out if you qualify for savings when you apply for your UnitedHealthcare Individual & Family Marketplace plan.

Learn more

How do I pick the right plan?

Want to be a savvy shopper? Get tips for comparing coverage and choosing the right plan.

How do I enroll?

We’ll walk you through 3 easy steps and get you enrolled in just minutes.

Common questions

Have more questions? We’ve got answers to common health insurance questions.