Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR)

Health Insurance Marketplaces, often known as exchanges, offer a method for individuals to independently purchase reasonably priced health insurance. Low-income people and families can get the cost-sharing reductions through marketplace plans to assist them in paying out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatment.

What cost-sharing reductions, how they are funded, what is an eligibility, and what consumers need to know about enrolling for and using cost-sharing reduction benefits are all covered in this article.

What is Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) ?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a provision known as cost-sharing reductions, often known as CSR or cost-sharing subsidies, that aims to reduce the cost of medical care. Cost-sharing reductions (CSR) are federal subsidies provided to individuals to assist lower their out-of-pocket expenses for health care. When people apply for health insurance through the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace, they are eligible for CSR.

Some customers are eligible to obtain cost-sharing reductions (CSR) to help them pay their cost-sharing charges in addition to receiving premium tax credits to assist with paying their premiums for marketplace plans. By reducing an insurance plan's out-of-pocket maximum and raising its actuarial value (AV), CSR lower enrollees' cost-sharing. CSR lower the deductibles, co-payments, and other out-of-pocket expenses that individuals who qualify for them pay when utilizing health plan benefits.

Key Facts of Cost Sharing Reductions

  • Federal subsidies known as cost-sharing reductions are given to people in order to lower their out-of-pocket expenses for health care.
  • For their deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, as well as to lower their out-of-pocket maximum for covered medical costs, approved people receive discounts.
  • CSRs minimize health care costs through lowering direct costs or annual plan limits.
  • For individuals to be eligible for cost-sharing reductions, they must use the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Lack of occupational insurance options, income restrictions for households, and enrollment in Silver plans are all eligibility requirements for CSR.
  • If you qualify for a premium tax credit and may join during a Special Enrollment Period depending on your projected household income, silver plans might also be offered to you.

How Does the Cost-Sharing Reductions Work ?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which President Barack Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010, included a provision for the cost-sharing reduction subsidy. You can receive a discount on your deductible, copayment, and coinsurance costs by using a cost sharing reduction. Cost-sharing reductions in the Health Insurance Marketplace are frequently referred to as "extra savings". If you meet the requirements, you must enroll for a Silver category plan to receive the extra savings.

If you submit an application for the Marketplace, you'll find out, if you're eligible for premium tax credits and extra savings. Any metal category plan is eligible for a premium tax credit. However, if you are also eligible for further discounts, you can only receive them if you choose a Silver plan.

You also have a lower out-of-pocket maximum, the total amount you would have to pay annually for covered medical care, if you are eligible for cost-sharing reductions. Your insurance policy pays 100% of all covered services once you have reached your out-of-pocket maximum.

You can be eligible for additional cost-sharing reductions, if you belong to a federally recognized tribe or are a shareholder in Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation. Cost-sharing reductions can cut insured people's out-of-pocket costs, but they do not make health insurance completely free. This implies that some costs associated with health care are still borne by individuals.

Example of Cost Sharing Reductions

If you enroll for a Silver plan and are eligible for lower out-of-pocket expenses :

Your deductible will be lower :

This indicates that the insurance company begins to cover its portion of your medical expenses sooner. For instance, if a specific Silver plan has a $750 deductible, you must pay the initial $750 of medical expenses out of pocket before the insurance provider begins to pay anything (other than for free preventive services). However, depending on your income, your deductible for a Silver plan might be $300 or $500 if you are eligible for cost-sharing reductions.

Your "out-of-pocket maximum" will be lower :

This implies that if you utilized a lot of care, such as if you became extremely ill or were in an accident, your annual payment would be lower overall. Your out-of-pocket maximum for a specific Silver plan may be $3,000 rather than $5,000.

Your copayments and coinsurance will be lower :

You pay for these each time you need medical attention; a typical visit to the doctor costs $30. If you sign up for the plan and meet the requirements for additional savings, your copayment for a doctor's visit under a Silver plan may be as low as $20 or $15.

Note :
These examples demonstrate how cost-sharing reductions operate. Your expenses will change based on the plan you choose.

Direct costs :

Direct cost-sharing reductions benefit people who both need minimal medical care and spend a significant portion of their income for it. A typical actuarial value (the amount the plan pays) for silver policies is around 70%. Since CSRs improve this value, the amount an insured party must pay is decreased. Anyone with a household income up to and including 250% FPL is eligible for this assistance.

Direct Cost-Sharing Reductions

Household Income Level

Plan Pays

Insured Pays

100% to 150% FPL



151% to 200% FPL



201% to 250% FPL



Who is Eligible for Cost Sharing Reduction ?

Some people who are eligible for the premium tax credit can get CSRs. In order to qualify for cost sharing reduction, individuals must :

  • Apply for coverage through an Health Insurance Marketplace
  • Enroll in a Silver plan
  • Not qualify for public coverage (such as Medicaid)
  • Not qualify for coverage through an employer
  • File annual tax return
  • A household income that is equal to or greater than 100% of the federal poverty line (FPL)

As soon as a person applies for coverage on a health insurance exchange, CSR eligibility is confirmed. People must select Silver plans, bronze and gold plans are not eligible for these savings.

In a plan with CSRs, an eligible enrollee is put into one with lower annual limitations, deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. Based on the individual's annual income, these plans are selected.

Note :
Visit to determine your eligibility for cost-sharing reductions.

Income Limits for Cost Sharing Reduction

People who purchase their own health insurance through the exchange (choose a silver plan) who earn between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty line are eligible for cost-sharing reductions. The majority of assistance is given to those with lower incomes. (In states that have expanded Medicaid, the lower limit is 139% because Medicaid is available to anyone whose income is below that amount.)

The income thresholds for cost-sharing reductions are adjusted annually to reflect changes to the federal poverty line. As long as their family income doesn't go beyond 300% of the poverty threshold, Native Americans are eligible for additional cost-sharing reductions that completely eliminate their out-of-pocket expenses.

In 2023, people enrolling health coverage and living in the 48 contiguous states, 250% of the poverty level amounts to $33,975 for a single individual and $69,375 for a family of four. (As Alaska and Hawaii have greater poverty rates, residents there can earn more and still be eligible for cost-sharing reductions)

Note :
Note that the lower income limitations do not apply to new immigrants as they are typically not eligible for Medicaid until they have been in the U.S. for at least five years. If you are qualified for Medicaid, you are not eligible for any type of subsidies in the exchange.

How Much is the Cost Sharing Reductions ?

The silver plan options that are available to you through the exchange will have built-in CSR benefits, if you are qualified for cost-sharing reductions. There are bronze, silver, and gold health insurance plans available on the exchanges, which are divided into different metal tiers (and in some areas, platinum plans). The actuarial value (AV), or proportion of overall average expenditures that the plan will cover, establishes the metal level of a plan.

If you qualify for CSR, your silver plans' actuarial values will be 73%, 87%, or 94%, depending on how your household's income stacks up against the federal poverty level (FPL).

The maximum out-of-pocket limit for cost sharing reduction plans must be set at a lower level than the limit for other plans. Each year, the cap is raised to account for inflation. For households with eligible incomes, CSR reduces the maximum out-of-pocket exposure on a Silver plan. For 2023 coverage, the unsubsidized maximum allowable out-of-pocket limit for an individual is $9,100 and $18,200 for a family.

But cost sharing reduction plans are required to have lower out-of-pocket caps. For enrollees with household incomes between 100% and 200% of the poverty level, the maximum allowable out-of-pocket expense is reduced by 67%, and by 20% for enrollees with household incomes between 200% and 250% of the poverty level.

The Silver plans' maximum out-of-pocket limitations for people who qualify for cost sharing reduction will be limited to the following :

  • The maximum out-of-pocket cost for a Silver plan in 2023 for applicants with MAGI between 100% and 200% of FPL is $3,000 for a single person and $6,000 for a family.
  • The maximum out-of-pocket expense for Silver plans in 2023 for applicants with MAGI between 200% and 250% of the poverty line is $7,250 for a single person and $14,500 for a family.

The advantages of CSR are unquestionably considerably greater for those whose income is up to 200% of the poverty level. As long as household income doesn't go beyond 250% of the poverty line, CSR benefits are still accessible at that threshold, but they're significantly less robust.

How to Applicants Receive Cost Sharing Reduction ?

When a participant who qualifies for cost-sharing reductions (CSR) applies for a Silver plan, they are automatically enrolled in a Silver plan with cost-sharing reductions built into the plan's structure. As long as the customer chooses a Silver plan, the reduced out-of-pocket cap and higher AV are consequently automatic.

Only applicants whose income qualifies them for CSR benefits will see silver plans with built-in CSR on the marketplace/exchange websites. Higher-income individuals will only see regular Silver plans without CSR benefits.

Cost-sharing reductions are not offered as a tax credit, unlike premium subsidies, and they are not required to be "reconciled" when individuals pay their taxes for the year in which they got cost-sharing reductions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are cost sharing reductions funded?
Previously, the federal government would pay health insurers back for the expenses associated with giving qualifying enrollees CSR benefits. The American Rescue Plan lowers the proportion of income that people must pay for a silver plan, resulting in even higher premium subsidies. The cost of CSR is still applied to silver plan rates in the majority of states. The Inflation Reduction Act has extended these subsidy improvements through 2025.

Is a Silver plan always the best option, if I qualify for CSR?
Here, there is no right or wrong response. A person who makes 240% of the poverty threshold and a person who makes 140% of it are both qualified for CSR, but they will receive quite different benefits as a result of their income. It might be wise to sign up for a less expensive Bronze plan if your income is in the area where the plan's AV will only be raised to 73%, saving money on premiums (perhaps receiving a plan for free) in exchange for somewhat higher out-of-pocket expenses.
You can also be qualified for a Gold plan with no premium, depending on your area and income. You'd need to carefully compare that to the various Silver plans and their built-in CSR benefits, making sure to take the premium difference into account when you do so.

How many people get cost sharing reductions?
More than 13.8 million people had effective coverage as of the beginning of 2022 in the country's with health insurance exchanges and marketplaces. Almost 6.8 million of them, or close to half, had coverage that also covered CSR advantages.

Do CSR get reconciled on tax returns?
Cost-sharing reductions are not reconciled on your tax return like premium subsidies are. Although you can use premium subsidies now rather than waiting to claim them on your tax return, they still count as a tax credit. Reductions in cost-sharing are distinct. They are not tax credits, and after the year is finished, there is no need to reconcile them with the IRS or any other governmental body. There was no mechanism in place to have people pay back any of the cost if their actual income turned out to be different from the income projection that was used to determine their CSR eligibility, even when the federal government was paying insurance companies directly to cover the cost of these benefits.

Will the cost-sharing reductions result in a specific reduction in the out-of-pocket expenses under a plan?
No, the cost-sharing reductions raise the standard silver plan's actuarial value, which lowers out-of-pocket expenses. In most jurisdictions, insurers have a great deal of flexibility to establish these costs, thus specific cost-sharing charges will differ from silver plan to silver plan even though they have the same actuarial value.

How does a person who qualifies for cost-sharing reductions choose a plan?
The quickest location to evaluate all marketplace plans is probably on the marketplace website. The website will show the silver plan options that correspond to the person's cost-sharing reduction level if they have applied and been determined to be qualified for both premium credits and cost-sharing reductions.

Does receiving the cost-sharing reduction require taking the premium tax credit in advance?
No, One merely needs to be qualified for the premium tax credit to receive the cost-sharing reductions. If the person choose to wait until tax season to claim their premium tax credits, they will still be eligible for cost-sharing reductions.