The Cheapest Illinois Health Insurance for Individuals and Families
The cost of health insurance in Illinois on the private market depends on a policyholder’s desired coverage. The state has five tiers with varying degrees of premiums and deductibles. Silver plans are the most balanced in terms of monthly rates and out-of-pocket expenses. In Illinois, these plans cost an average of $483 per month for a 40-year-old. The cheapest Silver plan, the Blue FocusCare Silver 210, is offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois at an average of $357 per month.
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Health insurance is typically offered through your employer or government programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid. However, if you do not have coverage through these avenues, you can purchase private plans through the Illinois insurance exchange.
Note that plans that fall on the lower end of the metal tier spectrum have lower monthly premiums but are also accompanied by higher out-of-pocket deductibles and maximums. For this reason, policyholders should find plans that can best suit their medical needs. If you visit the doctor more often, for instance, you should opt for higher metal tiers with high premiums but lower maximums.
To cater to various ages and needs, MoneyGeek analyzed the cheapest plans in the Illinois marketplace to help you find the best plan and tier that suits you.
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois by Metal Tier
The metal tier system provides policyholders with the option to purchase plans with lower costs and less coverage or higher costs with more coverage.
In Illinois, there are five tiers, including Catastrophic, Bronze, Expanded Bronze, Silver and Gold. Tiers below Expanded Bronze have lower monthly premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs, while higher tiers have expensive premiums and lower deductibles.
The average cost of health insurance in Illinois for an individual age 40 for each tier is:
- Catastrophic: $376 per month
- Bronze: $358 per month
- Expanded Bronze: $422 per month
- Silver: $483 per month
- Gold: $563 per month
Paying for a Gold plan may be more worth it for those who have more medical needs, be it frequent visits to the doctor or needing expensive prescription drugs, since insurance can cover costs sooner once the maximum limits are reached.
Review the table below to find the cheapest plan by monthly premium for each metal tier. Note that premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket maxes within the Illinois marketplace can vary between tiers.
Individuals with low incomes may qualify for cost-sharing reductions (CSR). This is only allowed for those getting Silver plans, but the reduced deductibles, copays and coinsurance make it a great deal.
Rates were collected by MoneyGeek based on a sample of a 40-year-old male for all types of plans in Illinois, including HMO, PPO and POS. HMO plans are the most common type.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois by Metal Tier
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- Metal TierPlanCompanyMonthly CostOOP Max
- CatastrophicWellFirst Catastrophic Safety NetWellFirst Health$288$8,550
- BronzeWellFirst Bronze Value Copay 8500XWellFirst Health$335$8,500
- Expanded BronzeBlue FocusCare Bronze? 209Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois$268$8,550
- SilverBlue FocusCare Silver? 210Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois$357$8,550
- GoldBlue FocusCare Gold? 211Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois$412$8,550
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois by Age and Metal Tier
Age is a significant factor that impacts the cost of health insurance. For instance, a Silver HMO plan for a 26-year-old Illinois resident will cost an average of $387 per month, while it costs an average of $1,025 per month for a 60-year-old. This is a difference of roughly $638.
Health Insurance Costs in Illinois by Age and Metal Tier
While MoneyGeek’s analysis is based on sample ages that can provide a rough estimate, your own premium may be different. Sometimes it can even be cheaper. This is because private health insurers in the Illinois marketplace will still have to take into account your income level and age. Seniors may qualify for tax premiums, while those with low income can get cost-sharing reductions. You won’t know your exact quote until you apply for a plan.
You can use the following table to compare metal tiers and the plan buyer’s age. For a more in-depth look at which metal tier to buy, don’t miss our guide on health insurance in Illinois.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois by Age And Metal Tier
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- PlanCompanyMonthly Rate
- CatastrophicHMOWellFirst Health$206
- CatastrophicHMOBright Health$246
- CatastrophicHMOHealth Alliance$263
- CatastrophicPPOBlue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois$287
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The Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois by County
Monthly premiums are based on a number of factors, and location is a significant consideration. Aside from which state you live in, where you live in Illinois can affect your premiums as well. This is because every state is divided into rating areas that are used to calculate premiums.
The state of Illinois has a total of 13 rating areas and 102 counties, with the most populous being Cook County. The cheapest Silver plan in the area is the Silver 5000 by Bright Health, costing an average of $337 per month.
Take a look at the table below to find the cheapest plan in your Illinois county for all metal tiers.
MoneyGeek gathered rates based on a sample profile of a 40-year-old male based in Illinois purchasing health insurance in each respective county.
Cheapest Health Insurance Plans in Illinois by County
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- Metal TierCompanyCheapest PlanMonthly Premium
- CookCatastrophicBright HealthCatastrophic 3 $0 Primary Care Visits$279
- LakeCatastrophicBlue Cross and Blue Shield of IllinoisBlue Choice Preferred Security PPO? 200$363
- McHenryCatastrophicBlue Cross and Blue Shield of IllinoisBlue Choice Preferred Security PPO? 200$363
- DupageCatastrophicBlue Cross and Blue Shield of IllinoisBlue Choice Preferred Security PPO? 200$351
- KaneCatastrophicBlue Cross and Blue Shield of IllinoisBlue Choice Preferred Security PPO? 200$351
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois With High Out-of-Pocket Maxes
Younger residents of Illinois who have minimal healthcare needs may want a low-cost plan with a high out-of-pocket maximum. This provides some form of coverage at a low cost despite needing to pay a lot out-of-pocket in the event of a medical emergency.
The most affordable health insurance in Illinois is the Blue FocusCare Bronze 209 by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. This Expanded Bronze-tier plan costs a 26-year-old an average of $215 per month.
MoneyGeek defines a high out-of-pocket maximum as one that is $8,250 or higher.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
The best health insurance in Illinois at a low monthly cost with high maximums and deductibles is offered by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Their Expanded Bronze-tiered plan offers ample coverage for individuals who don’t frequent the doctor but would still like some form of protection.
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois With Low Out-of-Pocket Maximums
Residents of Illinois who need more healthcare than most may want to get a higher-costing plan with low out-of-pocket maximums. This may be more expensive monthly, but regular visits to the doctor or frequently needing prescription drugs will help reach the maximum limit quickly, ensuring that coverage kicks in sooner.
The best health insurance in Illinois with high premiums and low out-of-pocket maximums is the MercyCare HMO Gold Option C plan by MercyCare Health Plans. This costs around $469 per month on average for 40-year-olds.
A low out-of-pocket maximum is defined by MoneyGeek as something below the $4,250 threshold. In the state of Illinois, the maximum out-of-pocket limit is $3,000, making it easy for residents to get coverage quicker.
MercyCare Health Plans
The MercyCare HMO Gold Option C plan by MercyCare Health Plans falls under the Gold tier, which is the highest tier in the state. It costs more on a monthly basis, but regular doctor visits or prescription needs paired with low out-of-pocket maximums means that insurers may cover costs much sooner.
Cheapest HMO/PPO/POS Health Insurance Plan in Illinois
The type of plan you purchase should be based on your healthcare needs and preferences. In Illinois, HMOs are the most common type, but you can also find PPO or POS plans.
Health maintenance organization (HMO) plans are the cheapest amongst the plan types but have limitations. With these plans, you’re only allowed to stay within your network provider and you need referrals to see a specialist. Preferred provider organization (PPO) plans cost more but have more flexibility, letting you choose providers in or out of your network and skipping the need for referrals. Point-of-service (POS) plans are the in-between, letting you choose any provider but costing more for those out of network.
The most affordable health insurance in Illinois under the Silver tier for 40-year-olds are:
- HMO: The Blue FocusCare Silver 210 plan by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois at an average of $357 per month.
- PPO: The Blue Choice Preferred Silver PPO 203 plan by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois at an average of $580 per month.
- POS: The 2021 POS 3000 Elite Silver plan by Health Alliance at an average of $570 per month.
Cheapest Plan in Illinois With an HSA
Illinois residents in good health and who don’t plan to frequent the doctor can instead opt for a health savings account (HSA). This is a cheaper alternative that lets you build up pre-tax savings for future medical expenses. Unfortunately, these plans have high deductibles, so you may end up paying more if you have a medical emergency.
Following a 40-year-old profile, the most affordable plans in Illinois for all available metal tiers with an option for HSA are the following:
- Expanded Bronze: The WellFirst Bronze HSA-E 6850X plan by WellFirst Health, costing an average of $357 per month.
- Silver: The WellFirst Silver HSA-E 4500X plan by WellFirst Health, costing an average of $490 per month.
- Gold: The MercyCare HMO Gold Option C plan by MercyCare Health Plans, costing an average of $469 per month.
What to Know About Health Insurance in Illinois
While MoneyGeek’s analysis of rates is based on private plan data from Illinois marketplaces, it is possible for you to find even cheaper plans once you apply for a plan on the market. Those who fall under lower income or older residents of Illinois may be eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, which is far cheaper than any marketplace plan.
Private Health Insurance on the Illinois Marketplace
The private health insurance market in Illinois divides plans into five metal tiers. Each metal tier follows the federal and state minimum requirements but comes with its own advantage and disadvantages:
- Catastrophic: The Catastrophic tier offers the least amount of benefits with the lowest premiums but high out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles. This is best for those who are less likely to visit the doctor but would like some form of coverage. Only individuals under 30 years of age or who qualify for “hardship” exemption can get this tier.
- Bronze: The Bronze tier has low monthly premiums and high out-of-pocket costs, which makes it suitable for those who don’t visit the doctor frequently but would like protection against worst-case medical scenarios. Note that routine care, such as checkups, will often be shouldered by the policyholder.
- Expanded Bronze: This metal tier has more benefits compared to Bronze or Catastrophic plans, as it is required to provide coverage for at least one “major service” such as emergency services or laboratory services before the deductible is met. It costs a little more than a Bronze plan with slightly lower out-of-pocket expenses.
- Silver: This tier offers the best balance between monthly premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Individuals who are eligible for cost-sharing reductions should consider this plan, as it’s possible to get Gold-level coverage at the cost of a Silver tier. It’s also beneficial for those who want more of their routine care covered.
- Gold: Gold is the tier with the most expensive monthly premiums and the lowest out-of-pocket expenses. It’s best for those who need frequent medical care, as insurance coverage will apply a lot sooner after out-of-pocket maximums are reached.
Note that despite MoneyGeek’s analysis of various tiers and age groups, it’s still possible to get cheaper plans or better coverage as insurers base premiums off your income level and unique situation.
For instance, if your income is between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, you may be eligible for premium tax credits. For a two-person household in Illinois, this applies to those making between $17,420 and $69,680 per year.
In order to find out how much you can save based on your income, check out Healthcare.gov’s income calculator.
In Illinois’ private health insurance market, there is a period where you can enroll in a new plan. Typically called open enrollment, this normally falls between the months of November and December. However, the pandemic has resulted in expanded enrollment dates.
Those with an annual income between 138% and 250% of the federal poverty level, meaning they make between $24,040 and $43,550 annually, may be eligible for cost-sharing reductions on a Silver plan. This can help lower deductibles, copayments or coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximums.
Medicaid in Illinois
As Illinois is a Medicaid expansion state, individuals with an income below 138% of the federal poverty level are eligible to apply for this public health insurance program. In November of 2020, over three million people were enrolled in Medicaid and received access to an affordable health insurance option that can help pay for most, if not all, of covered medical costs.
Medicare in Illinois
Individuals who are over 65 years old or who have a qualifying disability or illness may be eligible for Medicare, which can significantly reduce medical costs. This is a federal government program that covers specific medical services that comprise of the following parts:
- Part A: This is hospital insurance that covers in-patient stays, hospice care or care in a skilled nursing facility.
- Part B: This is medical insurance that pays for outpatient-related care, doctor’s fees, preventative services or medical supplies.
- Part D: This helps cover the cost of prescription drugs or vaccines.
How do I take advantage of cost-sharing reductions and tax credits for health insurance in Illinois?
Diane Howard, Ph.D., FACHE:
Consumers enrolling in the ACA Marketplace through getcoveredillinois.gov and Healthcare.gov can take advantage of the increased savings and lower costs from premium tax credits. If you already have an ACA Marketplace, you’re also eligible to receive the increased tax credits to reduce your premiums. The premium tax credits will continue through the end of 2022.
The tax credit calculation uses a percentage of a household’s income that needs to be contributed to a monthly health insurance premium. This amount is limited based on how the household income compares to federal poverty levels (FPL). Under the American Rescue Plan, individuals and families may be eligible for a temporary increase in premium tax credits (PTC), with no one paying more than 8.5% of their household income towards the cost of a health plan. Reference: Get Covered Illinois, The Official Health Marketplace
Outside of plans on the health insurance exchange, where else can I get health insurance in Illinois?
Diane Howard, Ph.D., FACHE:
Illinois has eight companies offering health insurance in the 2022 plan year: Ambetter, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, Bright Health, Cigna, Health Alliance, Oscar Health, Molina and United Healthcare. You will need to do some research, as some insurance carriers are not available in every county. Contacting the insurer directly and speaking with their customer service may be the best approach.
Purchasing health insurance online is an option that takes time. While it is convenient, it can be confusing. The best source for telephone contact is 1-800 for HealthCare.gov at 1-800-318-2596. Be prepared to wait and make sure you have your handouts and health insurance preferences to purchase.
MoneyGeek's research is based on estimates, and the cheapest plan for you will depend on your individual needs and characteristics. This analysis is intended to serve as a guide and no single plan is guaranteed to be the cheapest in Illinois for you
MoneyGeek collected plans and premiums for health insurance in Illinois from the Health Insurance Exchange Public Use Files (Exchange PUFs) for all available metal tiers and across several age groups.
Health insurance premiums on this page are an estimate and exclude potential premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies that users may be eligible for.
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