In Tennessee, how much medical coverage you need largely determines the cost of health insurance on the private market. The Tennessee marketplace has five tiers of health insurance plans with different levels of deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Of these five, Silver plans usually offer the best balance in terms of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses at $515 per month on average. The cheapest Silver plan in the state is the Cigna Connect 7300, offered by Cigna Healthcare at an average cost of $446 per month.
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee by Metal Tier
The cost of health insurance in Tennessee differs based on your chosen tier. The metal tier system gives you the option to lower your monthly costs while choosing higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses or get more coverage by increasing your premiums.
The metal tiers of health insurance currently available in Tennessee are Catastrophic, Bronze, Expanded Bronze, Silver and Gold. The more valuable metal plans are usually associated with higher premiums but lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. For each tier, the average monthly premiums in Tennessee are:
- Catastrophic: $332 per month
- Bronze: $362 per month
- Expanded Bronze: $416 per month
- Silver: $515 per month
- Gold: $661 per month
If you enjoy relatively good health, it can make sense to choose a lower-tier option like Bronze or Expanded Bronze if you want to save on monthly premiums. However, if you expect regular medical expenses, you can opt to pay more per month to avoid high deductibles and uncovered expenses.
The table below shows plans with the cheapest monthly premiums for each metal tier. Within a particular metal tier, premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses can vary greatly in the Tennessee health insurance marketplace.
For low-income residents, it can make sense to check eligibility for cost-sharing reductions (CSR) that apply to Silver plans. These can lead to significantly lower premiums and give you access to more coverage.
The premiums in the table are for a sample profile of a 40-year-old male across all plan types available in Tennessee. Tennessee only offers EPO health insurance plans.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee by Metal Tier
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- Metal TierPlanCompanyMonthly CostOOP Max
- CatastrophicOscar SecureOscar Insurance Company$326$8,550
- BronzeBronze B08L, Network LBlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee$295$8,550
- Expanded BronzeBronze B07L, Network LBlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee$364$6,900
- SilverCigna Connect 7300Cigna Healthcare$446$7,300
- GoldGold G07L, Network LBlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee$519$6,000
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee by Age and Metal Tier
According to data gathered from the Tennessee health insurance marketplace, age is a significant factor in determining health insurance costs. For example, a 26-year-old purchasing a Silver plan pays an average monthly premium of $413, while a 60-year-old would have to pay around $1,094 every month.
Health Insurance Costs in Tennessee by Age and Metal Tier
Health insurance premiums rise as your age increases. While you can surely choose a low-premium option like a Bronze plan to lower your monthly costs, you would have to pay more out of pocket if your medical expenses are high.
As you review the information, remember that these sample rates do not factor in how your income can affect premiums. For instance, older residents of Tennessee can end up paying less for a health insurance marketplace plan thanks to tax premiums and other regulatory support services. Of course, you will not know your exact quote until you actually apply for a plan.
The table below demonstrates how the cost of different metal-tier plans can vary based on age. To learn more in detail about these tiers to choose the right one for your needs, look at our extensive guide on Tennessee health insurance options.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee by Age And Metal Tier
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- PlanCompanyMonthly Rate
- CatastrophicEPOOscar Insurance Company$233
- CatastrophicEPOBright Health$240
- BronzeEPOBlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee$211
- BronzeEPOBlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee$249
- BronzeEPOAmbetter of Tennessee$254
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The Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee by County
Health insurance prices in Tennessee can differ based on where you live in the state. Tennessee is divided into multiple rating areas, and health insurance providers charge differently in different regions.
Tennessee has a total of 95 counties divided into eight rating areas. In Shelby County, the most populous in the state, the cheapest Silver plan on average is the Cigna Connect 7300, offered by Cigna Healthcare with an average premium of $428 per month.
You can use the table below to find the cheapest plans for each metal tier in your county.
The average premiums listed are for a sample 40-year-old male in Tennessee buying health insurance in that county.
Cheapest Health Insurance Plans in Tennessee by County
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- Metal TierCompanyCheapest PlanMonthly Premium
- AndersonCatastrophicBright HealthCatastrophic 3 $0 PCP Visits$318
- BlountCatastrophicBright HealthCatastrophic 3 $0 PCP Visits$318
- CampbellCatastrophicBright HealthCatastrophic 3 $0 PCP Visits$318
- ClaiborneCatastrophicBright HealthCatastrophic 3 $0 PCP Visits$318
- CockeCatastrophicBright HealthCatastrophic 3 $0 PCP Visits$318
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee With High Out-of-Pocket Maxes
A plan with lower premiums and higher out-of-pocket maxes can make sense for younger people with low medical costs. If you opt for this, remember that you would have to pay more out of pocket in the event of high medical costs or an unforeseen medical emergency.
In Tennessee, the cheapest plan with the highest out-of-pocket expense is a Bronze B08L, Network L plan offered by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. For a 26-year-old, this plan has a monthly average cost of $237.
For this guide, MoneyGeek considered plans with max out-of-pocket expenses of $8,250 or more to be high out-of-pocket plans.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
When it comes to the best health insurance in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee offers the most affordable option for a plan with a high out-of-pocket maximum. This plan is in the Bronze tier.
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee With Low Out-of-Pocket Maximums
For individuals who expect high recurring medical costs, a plan with higher monthly premiums and a lower out-of-pocket maximum can make sense. You will have to pay more every month. However, recurring expenses like doctor’s visits and prescription drugs will help you quickly reach your maximum out-of-pocket limit. Once you reach this limit, your insurance provider will start covering your medical costs.
In Tennessee, the cheapest option for a plan with low out-of-pocket limits is the Ambetter Balanced Care 25 HSA plan offered by Ambetter of Tennessee. For an average 40-year-old man, the monthly premium is around $489.
Usually, MoneyGeek considers a plan with maximum out-of-pocket costs of $4,250 or lower to be a low out-of-pocket max plan. While the Ambetter Balanced Care 25 HSA plan has a slightly higher max out-of-pocket limit of $4,800, it features the lowest out-of-pocket expenses in the state while also being the cheapest in terms of average premiums.
Ambetter of Tennessee
The Ambetter Balanced Care 25 HSA is a Silver plan, which provides a good balance between coverage and lower premiums.
Cheapest EPO Health Insurance Plan in Tennessee
Your healthcare preferences and requirements dictate the type of insurance plan you purchase. In Tennessee, all available plans are of the Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) variety. EPO plans are similar to HMO plans in pricing and require you to stay in the provider network to have services covered. However, you might not need a referral to see a specialist.
MoneyGeek found that the cheapest Silver plan for the available plan type is:
- EPO: The Cigna Connect 7300 plan offered by Cigna Healthcare. The average 40-year-old male will pay $446 per month.
Cheapest Plan in Tennessee With an HSA
Individuals enjoying good health who do not require frequent doctor visits can opt to purchase a Health Savings Account (HSA) plan. These cost less and offer you the provision of making pre-tax contributions to use towards medical expenses. If you do not use this money for medical expenses, it can count as savings.
In Tennessee, MoneyGeek found that the cheapest health insurance plans with a Health Savings Account (HSA) option in each available tier are:
- Expanded Bronze: The Bronze B07L, Network L plan offered by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee costs an average of $364 per year for a 40-year-old male.
- Silver: The Ambetter Balanced Care 25 HSA plan offered by Ambetter of Tennessee costs $489 per year on average for a 40-year-old male.
Please note that plans with HSA options tend to have higher deductibles, so your savings can take a large hit if you encounter unexpected medical costs.
What to Know About Health Insurance in Tennessee
The sample rates included in MoneyGeek’s analysis are based on private plan data acquired from the Tennessee insurance marketplace. You might be able to find even more affordable options if you apply for a plan in the health insurance exchange. Lower-income or senior Tennessee residents might also be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, which are usually much cheaper than private marketplace plans.
Private Health Insurance on the Tennessee Marketplace
Healthcare plans in the Tennessee marketplace are divided into several metal tiers. Of these, Catastrophic and Bronze plans usually have the lowest premiums but the highest out-of-pocket expenses. Gold plans include higher monthly premiums but lower total costs if you have extensive medical needs.
Metal-tier health insurance plans all conform with state and federal health insurance guidelines, but each has its own pros and cons.
- Catastrophic: Catastrophic plans offer the lowest possible benefits, with less coverage, high out-of-pocket costs and high deductibles. These plans are only available to people who are under 30 or living under conditions of financial hardship. While Catastrophic plans don’t offer much in the way of coverage, the cost is extremely low, and it can help you avoid incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt after a medical emergency.
- Bronze: Bronze plans offer more benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs than Catastrophic plans. They are excellent for people who rarely need to see a doctor and are looking for a cheap policy to protect them in case of a medical emergency. However, these plans still have high out-of-pocket costs, making healthcare expensive.
- Expanded Bronze: The Expanded Bronze plan covers a little more than the Bronze plan and has slightly lower out-of-pocket costs. It’s more expensive than Bronze or Catastrophic plans but cheaper than the other available plans on the marketplace.
- Silver: Silver plans are between Expanded Bronze coverage and Gold coverage. They have lower out-of-pocket costs than Catastrophic, Bronze and Extended Bronze policies, but their monthly premiums are usually higher.
- Gold: Gold plans have significantly lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs than any of the plans mentioned above but can be significantly more expensive than the lower-tier options. However, if you know you will need major medical coverage in the near future, you may save money overall by choosing a Gold plan.
Based on your income level, you might qualify for even cheaper plans or increased coverage options.
You can be eligible for premium tax credits if your income falls between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. In Tennessee, a two-person household making between $17,420 and $69,680 per year would qualify for these credits. To learn more, use the HealthCare.gov calculator.
Open enrollment is when you can enroll in a new healthcare plan or renew an existing plan through the health insurance marketplace. The open enrollment period usually falls between November and December, but they have now been extended on account of COVID-19. You can also qualify for a special enrollment period after moving or changing your employment status.
If your income is between 138% and 250% of the federal poverty level, you would be eligible for cost-sharing reductions when you buy a Silver plan. These can result in lower deductibles, copayments or coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximums. In fact, you might be able to buy a Gold plan at Silver rates if you qualify for these deductions. In Tennessee, a two-person household making between $24,040 and $43,550 per year might be eligible for these reduced rates.
Medicaid in Tennessee
As Medicaid is free, it is the cheapest option for eligible people in Tennessee. As Tennessee has not expanded Medicaid, you will not qualify based on income alone but only if you meet Tennessee state guidelines. Usually, people from very low-income families, low-income children, pregnant women or people with disabilities would be eligible.
Medicare in Tennessee
Residents of Tennessee who are 65 or older or have a qualifying disability can qualify for Medicare. Medicare is a federal health care program that can have costs associated with some aspects, unlike Medicaid. However, Medicare plans are usually affordable, especially when comparing them to a private health insurance plan.
Medicare can be broken down into three parts:
- Part A: This is your hospital insurance, which covers hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care and some home health care services. It’s free and is called premium-free Part A.
- Part B: This is your medical insurance, covering some doctors' services, outpatient care, necessary medical supplies and preventive services. Your monthly premium for Part B care depends on your income.
- Part D: This is your prescription drug benefit, which includes vaccines and other prescription drugs. Costs will vary depending on your plan.
There are certain limitations to these coverages offered through Medicare, so be sure to review the policy before signing up for benefits.
Expert Advice: Finding Affordable Health Insurance in Tennessee
- How do I take advantage of cost-sharing reductions and tax credits for health insurance in Tennessee?
- Outside of plans on the health insurance exchange, where else can I get health insurance in Tennessee?
Assistant Professor of Accounting at Austin Peay State University
Greg Vital - Franklin Farrow Associate Professor in Healthcare Administration at the University of Tennessee
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 Tennessee for you
MoneyGeek collected plans and premiums for health insurance in Tennessee 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.
About Mark Fitzpatrick