When a Platinum Plan Is a Better Buy

Platinum plans may have the highest premiums among the Obamacare health plans. But they may save money for people taking specialty drugs because of their reduced co-payments and lower caps on annual out-of-pocket costs, according to a study by HealthPocket. Platinum plans have the lowest average out-of-pocket costs for the five common specialty drugs. HealthPocket looked at 2015 Obamacare metal plans whose rate filings have been made public. The average out-of-pocket specialty drug costs for platinum plans were 64% lower than gold plans, 74% lower than silver plans, and 78% lower than bronze plans.

The difference in out-of-pocket costs is dramatic. For example, taking the specialty drug Humira (used to treat inflammation) could result in annual out-of-pocket costs of $6,381.38 for 2015 bronze plans compared to only $1,416.67 for 2015 platinum plans. However, not every Obamacare health plan covers the same drugs; and caps on annual out-of-pocket costs can vary within the same metal tier. Consumers who take expensive specialty drugs need to make sure that their drugs are included in the list of covered medications on the Obamacare plans they are comparing.

“Specialty drugs represent an increasing percentage of insurance spending for prescription medications. In coming years, they’ll become the largest single cost category despite the fact that specialty drugs serve a minority of the population,” said Kev Coleman, Head of Research & Data at HealthPocket. For those who depend on these drugs, comparing premiums and annual caps on out-of-pocket costs is often more important than comparing health plans’ copayments and co-insurance fees for drugs, he added. For more information, visit www.HealthPocket.com.,

Last Updated 01/19/2022

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