Health Insurance is a serious topic that demands your full attention, especially while you are on a health plan shopping spree. With a myriad of aspects to be taken into consideration, health insurance undoubtedly can be highly confusing. You certainly seek assistance and guidance from an expert, who can guide you during one of your toughest selection. Perhaps while shopping for health insurance most of us try to shop for the best health plan available at cheap or affordable prices. This is essential so that we have comprehensive health coverage without breaking our bank. Healthcare costs quickly add up and become a financial burden for Americans, who struggle to pay a premium to remain insured. The cost of healthcare has been on the rise for several years. So, while looking for cheap and affordable health insurance plans you must check out all the available options for finding the most suitable health plan at an extremely cheap price.
Best Cheap Individual Health Insurance
If you do not qualify for the Medicaid plan, then you can look for a cheap and affordable plan through state health insurance marketplaces. Health plan offering comprehensive benefits provide coverage for all ten of the essential health benefits that are required to be covered under the Affordable Care Act. The ten essential health benefits include:
- Prescription Drugs
- Emergency Services
- Rehabilitative Services
- Outpatient Services
- Maternity and newborn care
- Laboratory services
- Preventative and Wellness services
- Mental Health and substance abuse care
- Pediatric Services
Cost of Health Plans in Different Metal Tiers
If you currently do not receive coverage through an employer or federal government, you probably have the option to shop for the marketplace policy. To identify the cheapest or lowest-cost option at each level of coverage you need to compare individual health insurance plans available on all state health insurance marketplaces. As part of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to categorize their individual and family plans in four different metal tiers to make it easier for you to differentiate between the plans with the highest and lowest level of coverage.
Bronze Plans – Lowest Premium, High Out-of-pocket Expenses
Individual and family health plans categorized in the Bronze metal tier are the cheapest plan available on the state health insurance marketplaces. These plans have the lowest monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs are higher compared to the other tiers. Thus, these plans are ideal for those who don’t expect to obtain mush medical services in the coming year. So, if you are expecting that you might frequently need medical services in the coming year then you are recommended to not select a Bronze plan.
Silver – Cheap Rates for Low-income Households
Silver plans come with moderate monthly premiums as well as modest out-of-pocket expenses, due to which Silver plan is considered the most affordable medical insurance plan. A Silver plan is the cheapest and the most affordable health insurance plan basically because of cost-sharing reductions that allow you to receive reductions on the premium amount as well as on out-of-pocket maximums. You will eligible for cost-sharing reductions if your household is less than 250% of the federal poverty level and it significantly reduces premiums and makes the Silver plan an excellent choice for many.
Gold – High Premiums, Low Out-of-pocket Expenses
Gold tier individual and family health insurance plans are generally expensive among all the health plans available on your state marketplace. However, these plans have the most reasonable deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums and thus these plans help you save money if you expect high medical expenses during the plan year. You should consider purchasing a Gold health plan if you expect to obtain more medical services in the coming year or if you require to refill an expensive drug prescription on a monthly basis.
Platinum – Most Expensive Premiums, Cheapest Deductibles
Platinum tier individual and family health plans are the most expensive among all the individual plans available on your state marketplace. Platinum plans have relatively expensive monthly premiums, though the plans have the cheapest deductible too and these policies usually have a $0 deductible. Therefore, if you expect high medical bills then you should consider buying Platinum tier health plans. However, Platinum plans are not available in all the states.
Monthly and annual health insurance premium rates by metal tier for a 40-year-old applicant in 2020.
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Factors that Affect the Health Plan’s Cost
Your health insurance premium costs depend upon several factors and the premium costs are not within your control. Nonetheless, you should be aware of all the following factors that affect your health insurance premiums cost.
- The state in which you live
- Whether you belong to a rural or urban area of the state, health insurance premiums are lower in urban areas.
- Type of plan you opt and buy
The county in which you live
- State and federal laws
- If you are entitled to employer-based health plans then the size of your employer also determines the premium cost, health insurance is generally cheaper at bigger companies.
- Premium cost varies for low-wage and high-wage worker, low wage workers pay less premium through the exchange-based plans due to subsidies and pay more premiums for employer-based plans.
- If you have bought health insurance yourself or received a health insurance plan from your employer.
- Your current age
- Health insurance premiums for tobacco users can cost up to 50% more so if you take tobacco then your premiums will be comparatively expensive than the person who doesn’t take tobacco.
Strategies to Search for the Cheap Health Insurance Plan
With individual health insurance premiums averaging about $462 per month in the United States in 2020 for a 40 years old person, you might be wondering if cheap or affordable health plans do exist. Undoubtedly the cheapest health insurance plan is Medicaid but if you do not qualify for Medicaid then you need to find other cheap health insurance options by spending a good amount of time in understanding what are the benefits that you are getting for a given premium amount.
To find cheap and affordable health insurance plan you first have to evaluate all your options offered by the extensive range of insurance carriers. Firstly you should have a clear idea about your healthcare needs then you should start shopping for your health insurance plan. You should remember that the cheapest health plans generally offer the least coverage and you need to decide that whether you need to save a few dollars in the monthly premium or want comprehensive coverage in case of some medical emergency.
As a U.S. resident, you can purchase health insurance through different sources but the cheapest option is to enroll in a federal healthcare program called Medicaid. However, you should be eligible to enroll in Medicaid, as this plan is designed for individuals whose household income is less than either 133% or 138% of the federal poverty level. However, the exact eligibility level varies depending on the state in which you live because some of the states have expanded this program to more low-income adults by passing legislation.
While shopping for health insurance you should check out the state exchanges set up through the ACA along with several other options, as you never know from where you can get the best deal. As a smart and knowledgeable insurance shopper, you have the following options to buy cheap and affordable health plans.
Buy directly from insurance companies
Buying health plans directly from the insurance companies is also a viable option, as they offer a great range of insurance policies through their websites compared to a range of policies offered on the state exchanges. Besides, health insurance companies’ websites not just provide you with the health plans available but they also allow you to compare different plans, see detailed information on plans, and can even apply online. However, this will not be the best option for you if you want to compare plans of different insurance carriers and will help you only when you are absolutely sure about the insurance company from which you wish to buy.
Buy through an agent
If you get overwhelmed with the wide range of health plan choices available, then you should take the help of an insurance expert, an insurance agent, to make the right health insurance decision. However, while availing service of an insurance agent you should know that there are primarily two types of insurance agents, captive and independent agents. Captive agents will offer insurance products of only one company whereas independent agents provide a plan of several insurers and will help you pick a plan from a wide range of health plans of different insurers.
Buy through online insurance advisers
Online insurance agents are also a good option to consider while looking for cheap and affordable health plans. You need to visit their online portal where you will be required to answer a few questions and then they will offer health plans from several insurance carriers that fit your requirements. Your online insurance advisers will provide you with innumerable options compared to your state marketplace and you will also be delighted with the ease and convenience of shopping online. You will able to save a great amount of time and effort that is involved in meeting with an agent. However, you are advised to carefully read the fine print of the policy document so that you are completely aware of what you are signing up before choosing a plan.
Check your Eligibility for Special Programs
Federal Government has launched some special health programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP to provide low-cost, federally subsidized healthcare for its citizens. Medicare is the most popular of all designed for those over age 65, whereas Medicaid plan is designed for low-income individuals and the CHIP, Children’s Health Insurance Program is designed for children and in some cases their families who don’t qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford any other health plan. However, you first need to determine your eligibility in Medicaid and CHIP by applying through your state health insurance exchange and in case if you are eligible you enroll in either of these plans during any time of the year.
Check COBRA Worthiness
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA allows you to stay for up to 18 months on your employer’s insurance plan when you have otherwise lost a job or experiences a reduction of work hours. However, you should keep in mind that it is quite an expensive way to remain covered because you are required to pay for the entire plan. Despite the hefty price COBRA can still prove advantageous if you want to have access to healthcare providers who may not be available under other plans or if you are expecting huge medical expenses coming up and you have already met your deductibles for the year. You should consider all these factors while comparing the costs of the health plans. If you find yourself worthy of this plan, then only you should consider it.
Stay Covered on your Parent’s Plan
According to the Affordable Care Act, you can stay on your parent’s health insurance plan if you are under 26 years of age. This option will turn out to be the cheapest for you even if you pay your parents the cost, which is the difference between including you on their plan and dropping you. Even if you are married or otherwise financially independent you can take advantage of this option. Perhaps you should make sure that your parent’s insurer provides in-network care in the area where you live because out-of-network costs will wipe out your savings.
Think about High Deductible or Catastrophic Plans
While looking for cheap and affordable health plans, you can even think about high deductible health plans with lower monthly premiums if you don’t expect to use your health plan much. Besides, high deductible plans you may also be eligible for catastrophic plans with low premiums under the ACA if you are under the age of 30 years. Even over the 30 years may qualify for a catastrophic plan if they qualify for a hardship exemption. These exemptions include dire financial circumstances like homelessness, recent eviction, and bankruptcy. A catastrophic plan allows you three primary care doctor’s visits per year along with prescription coverage and other essential benefits. You will also be required to pay out of pocket for any medical care outside those parameters until you reach a massive deductible of $7,900. This deductible amount was of 2019. Though these plans come with low premiums still experts suggest that only those who are in excellent health and young should consider buying these plans. You should also make sure that you will be able to meet the high deductible if you need to otherwise this cheap option can turn out to be extremely expensive if you require care that is not covered.
Consider the Option of Short-term Plans
Short-term plans are usually available for three months period but mostly these plans can be renewed. The short-term plans may likely prove to be your cheapest option but not in all the cases. As a smart and knowledgeable shopper, you should be aware of limitations to short-term plans. You should know that the protections mandated by the ACA do not apply to short-term plans. It means that if you have pre-existing medical conditions, your short-term insurance carrier might not cover you and if you become seriously ill you will not be able to renew your plan. The short-term plans, unlike ACA approved plans don’t even cover preventive care like immunizations. Unlike regular health insurance, these plans also come with a lifetime cap on care so there is a chance that you could run out of coverage in case of very serious illness. Thus, you should only consider the short-term plan when you are shopping for health plans outside the open enrollment period or when you are in between jobs.
Health Insurance Providers offering Cheap & Affordable Plans
Currently, in the United States, there are more than 900 health insurance companies offering health insurance coverage to its citizens. As far as health insurance company offering the cheapest health plan is concerned, the choice can vary from one state to another. When looking for cheap and affordable health insurance policies chances are that you will come across some health insurance companies that offer cheaper health plans compared to the rest of the insurance carriers. Nevertheless, while searching for cheap plans you should not ignore a few vital benefits that should be included in the plan irrespective of its cost. However, it was discovered that the cheapest health insurance company offering a Silver health plan in around ten states was Ambetter. Some of the other health insurance companies offering cheapest and affordable plans include:
Ambetter is a health insurance company operating in the U.S. that offers several levels of low-cost health insurance plan options. So. if Ambetter insurance carrier is operational in your area you can check its low-cost health insurance plans to save a good amount.
UnitedHealthcare is the U.S. largest health insurance provider having around 900,000 healthcare professionals in its network. This health insurance carrier is known for offering some cheap and economical health plans for U.S. citizens.
Kaiser Permanente has maintained a network of hospitals and medical centers in most of the states. App the health plans offered by this carrier come with an HSA option, which means that deductibles are higher but premiums are lower. Thus, plans offered by this company will prove cost-effective and affordable if you are in good health and live in the plan’s service area.
BlueCross BlueShield is a nationwide operating insurance carrier offering a diverse range of health plans from group health insurance, to individual and family plans, to short term health plans. With a wide range of options available you are sure to find cheap and affordable health plans.
One of the oldest health insurance companies operating for 200 years, Cigna is known to offer ACA compliant health insurance plans. Though the company is operational in 12 states only and if you belong to any of those states then you can buy plans of the company to have coverage for essential medical care at cheap price.
Cheapest Individual Health Plans in all the States
Cheap and affordable health insurance policy is a plan that provides comprehensive health coverage to you and your family at an affordable and cost-effective price. While looking for a cheap health insurance plan in most of the states you will generally find a Silver health insurance plan to be cheap, as it has modest premiums with minimal out-of-pocket expenses.
Monthly Premium For 40-Year Old
The Bottom Line
While shopping for health insurance you should always keep in mind that the cheapest health insurance policy is not always the plan with the lowest premiums instead the health plan that provides the comprehensive health insurance coverage depending upon your health and medical needs at the best rate is the most affordable and the cheapest option. Therefore, be aware of all your options and choices available in the health insurance marketplace and shop smartly.
Cheap Health Insurance FAQ
Health insurance is like a protective shield that protects you at the time of a medical emergency. Health issues are quite unpredictable and can occur at any stage. Therefore, if you remain uninsured then managing the costs of doctor visits and medicines can financially affect you in a big way. Thus, purchasing health insurance plans will protect you and your family against catastrophic healthcare costs and will help you pay for your routine medical expenses. Seeing its benefits, the federal government has earlier mandated for everyone to have health insurance. Though this mandate has been lifted still some states have enacted state-level mandates that require residents to have health insurance.
ACA-compliant individual health insurance plans provide the ten essential health benefits like prescription drug coverage, lab services, emergency services, preventive and wellness services, ambulatory services, pediatric services, rehabilitative services, outpatient services, and maternity and newborn services. However, healthcare plans that cover a wide range of medical expenses may cost more than the basic plans or may have higher out-of-pocket costs for some services.
Based on the average rankings across different categories like healthcare premium cost, in-patient expense, doctor’s staff, nursing home staff, health insurance coverage, self-reported health status, child immunization, and infant survival, the following were the top five states for healthcare:
The 5 worst states for healthcare in 2020 are:
While shopping for health insurance plans you need to be careful and cautious in your approach to find a plan that provides you the required coverage at the best possible price. Instead of looking just for cheap health plans, you should look for a plan that offers comprehensive coverage at affordable prices. As a knowledgeable shopper, you should know that only the monthly premium is not the total cost, as health plans also have some additional expenses included, so you need to consider the overall cost of the plan and not just the monthly premium. It is important to note that the cheapest health insurance plan is not always the right plan, so to find the best value coverage you first need to evaluate your healthcare needs and then start looking for a plan accordingly.
You can look for the cheapest or most affordable health insurance plan depending upon your household income. However, the cheapest option is to enroll in a Medicaid plan if your income falls below 138% of the federal poverty level. Medicaid is a federally funded health plan designed especially for low-income individuals. Those who are not eligible for this plan can find health plans in their state health marketplace or can even look for off-exchange plans like short-term plans while looking for cheap and affordable health solutions.