Obamacare Metallics: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum

Jewelry shopping is tricky. That's because the variety is infinite, and even experts have to examine it closely to determine the true value.

The same thing applies to health insurance: lots of variables, and unless you're an expert, it's hard to know what you're looking at.

That's why one goal of ObamaCare - is to make insurance easier to shop. How? By standardizing policies and giving them simple labels: bronze, silver gold and platinum.

The lowest cost plans coincide with the least precious metals: bronze is cheapest, then silver. But these plans also don't provide as much coverage: Bronze plans will cover an average of 60 percent of overall healthcare costs and silver, 70 percent.

Like gold jewelry, gold plans are more expensive than bronze or silver, but they cover more - 8o percent of expenses. And the king of metals... platinum... has the highest monthly premiums, and covers 90 percent of your overall cost of healthcare.

So by standardizing the features in each policy and giving them simple labels, the idea is to make it easier for you to shop for your health insurance. Also in these state exchanges, there's going to be lots of companies, so hopefully the prices will get more competitive too.

But you won't have to go to each company individually. There will soon be state exchanges: think of them as a health insurance mall, where you can compare similar policies side by side and insurance companies will be competing for your business.

If you get your health insurance at work, nothing may change for you. You don't need to know this stuff. But if you're one of the millions of Americans who's going to be buying insurance soon, bronze, silver, gold and platinum is going to make shipping for that insurance a lot easier than it is shopping for jewelry.