If you don't have health insurance through your work and aren't eligible for Medicare or Medicaid through the government, Washington's private insurance exchange is the best place to look.
It can be difficult to locate a health insurance plan that is affordable and offers solid coverage. A low-cost plan will give less coverage and have high deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Plans with more coverage, on the other hand, will be more expensive up-front. Those who pick cheaper premiums may end up paying more money out of pocket before the insurer begins to cover their medical expenditures.
MoneyGeek compared several plan types in Washington's insurance marketplace for various age groups to help you find the state's cheapest and best health insurance plans.
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington by Metal Tier
The health insurance plans available via Washington's private insurance marketplace will fall into one of three categories or metal tiers: Bronze, Silver or Gold. The metal tiers enable consumers to compare health plans from various insurance companies. Prices and cost-sharing for each policy differ according to its tier. The highest insurer cost-sharing is found in Gold plans, while the lowest is in Bronze policies. As a result, Gold plans will be the most expensive, while Bronze plans will be the most affordable.
Cheaper plans like Bronze plans have higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, whereas expensive policies like Gold plans have broader coverage with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. The following are the average monthly health insurance rates in Washington for the three tiers:
- Bronze: $316 per month
- Silver: $433 per month
- Gold: $483 per month
Like how the average premiums differ, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums for Washington's private insurance policies also vary significantly between the metal tiers. Each metal tier's cheapest available average monthly premium is shown in the table below.
Washington’s residents with low income may qualify for cost-sharing reductions available through Silver plans. These policies offer considerably cheaper premiums than plans belonging to the Gold tier while providing better coverage than Bronze plans. Silver plans generally provide a good balance of pricing and coverage and, with cost-sharing reductions, are excellent options for people looking for low-income health insurance in Washington.
MoneyGeek examined rates for plans available in Washington based on a 40-year-old sample profile. These rates apply to HMO, PPO and EPO plans, with HMO being the most common in the state.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington by Metal Tier
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- Metal TierPlanCompanyMonthly CostOOP Max
- BronzeAmbetter Essential Care 1 (2021)Coordinated Care$276$8,300
- SilverAmbetter Balanced Care 1 (2021)Coordinated Care$377$7,350
- GoldAmbetter Secure Care 1 (2021) with 3 Free PCP VisitsCoordinated Care$422$6,450
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington by Age and Metal Tier
We found that age significantly affects health insurance rates while assessing insurance plans from the Washington health exchange. As you get older, your insurance premiums rise. In Washington, a Silver plan will cost approximately $348 per month for a 26-year-old, while the same coverage may cost around $918 per month for a 60-year-old.
Health Insurance Costs in Washington by Age and Metal Tier
The quotes from the Washington insurance marketplace are just averages based on sample ages and do not consider how income affects insurance prices. Because insurers consider tax premiums and other variables, seniors in the state may receive lower premiums than our sample rates. Therefore, until you apply for insurance, you won't know what your premium will be.
The table below demonstrates how costs differ based on metal tier plans and age groups. You can find more information on the insurance metal tiers in our guide to Washington health insurance.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington by Age And Metal Tier
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- PlanCompanyMonthly Rate
- BronzeHMOCoordinated Care$197
- BronzeHMOCoordinated Care$199
- BronzeHMOCoordinated Care$203
- BronzeHMOCoordinated Care$206
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The Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington by County
The cost of health insurance in Washington varies based on where in the state you reside. Every state in the United States is split into rating areas, each with one or more counties. To calculate your monthly insurance rates, health insurance firms look at your county’s rating area. Insurers calculate premiums for counties in the same rating zone in the same way.
The state of Washington's 39 counties are divided into nine rating zones. The Virtual Plus Silver - 21 plan from Kaiser WA is the most affordable Silver health insurance plan in King County, Washington's most populated county. On average, the coverage costs $358 per month.
Use the table below as a reference to get the cheapest plan in your county for each metal tier.
The average premiums for all counties across all metal categories were calculated using a 40-year-old individual's profile.
Cheapest Health Insurance Plans in Washington by County
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- Metal TierCompanyCheapest PlanMonthly Premium
- KingBronzeMolinaCore Care Bronze 1$274
- ClallamBronzeCoordinated CareAmbetter Essential Care 1 (2021)$268
- CowlitzBronzeCoordinated CareAmbetter Essential Care 1 (2021)$268
- Grays HarborBronzeCoordinated CareAmbetter Essential Care 1 (2021)$268
- JeffersonBronzeCoordinated CareAmbetter Essential Care 1 (2021)$268
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington With High Out-of-Pocket Maxes
Because their medical costs are typically low, healthy young individuals in Washington may choose a health insurance plan with low premiums. Their out-of-pocket maximum, however, will be higher. As a result, if you have a medical emergency or see the doctor frequently, you will end up paying more money out of your own pocket before the insurer starts compensating you.
**Ambetter Essential Care 1 (2021) **from Coordinated Care is the cheapest plan with the highest out-of-pocket limit for Washington residents. This plan may cost about $221 per month for a 26-year-old.
For this analysis, MoneyGeek looked at plans with annual maximum out-of-pocket costs of $8,250 or more.
Ambetter Essential Care 1 (2021) is in the Bronze metal tier and will have high deductibles to compensate for the cheap monthly premiums.
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington With Low Out-of-Pocket Maximums
If you have higher medical expenses than an average person, you should choose a health insurance plan with a low out-of-pocket limit. Regardless of the higher premiums, you'll soon reach the low out-of-pocket limits of such a plan if you frequently visit doctors or pay for prescription medication. When you reach the out-of-pocket maximum, your insurance company will begin paying for your medical bills.
The cheapest health insurance plan in Washington with a low out-of-pocket maximum is Molina Cascade Gold from Molina. For a 40-year-old individual, this plan will cost around $439 per month.
For this analysis, MoneyGeek looked at plans with a yearly maximum cost of less than $4,250. Molina Cascade Gold has a maximum out-of-pocket rate of $5,250, which is higher than the threshold of $4,250. However, compared to the other policies available to Washington residents, this one has the lowest out-of-pocket limit.
Because Molina Cascade Gold is a Gold plan, it will come with lower out-of-pocket maximums and higher monthly premiums. Nonetheless, if you have a lot of medical bills, you'll quickly reach your maximum out-of-pocket limit, and the insurance company will start paying your bills.
Cheapest HMO/EPO/PPO Health Insurance Plan in Washington
To find the best health insurance plan in Washington, you must first assess your health care needs and preferences. The majority of the plans available in the Washington insurance market are Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans. There are also Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans available in the marketplace.
With the exception of an emergency, HMO plans in Washington cover medical assistance only from in-network health care professionals. Additionally, you can only obtain services from in-network specialists through your primary care physician's referral. These policies are less expensive than other health care plans and are ideal if you don't mind having a high deductible in your policy. EMO plans are similar to HMO plans in terms of features. In contrast to an HMO plan, however, you do not need a referral from your primary doctor to consult specialists in the network.
PPO plans, on the other hand, come with a great deal of flexibility. You don't need a primary care physician in your network, neither do you need their referrals to see a specialist. In short, using a PPO plan, you can see both in-network and out-of-network doctors. However, the costs of consulting a doctor outside the preferred network may be high, and you'll have to pay more out-of-pocket costs for such bills.
For each accessible plan type, the following are the cheapest health insurance plans in Washington:
- Cheapest HMO Silver Plan: Ambetter Balanced Care 1 (2021) from Coordinated Care, costing an average of $377 monthly for a 40-year-old
- Cheapest PPO Silver Plan: Navigator Silver 5000 provided by PacificSource, costing an average of $484 per month for a 40-year-old
- Cheapest EPO Silver Plan: Community Health Network of Washington Cascade Select Silver offered by Community Health Network of Washington, which costs $412 a month on average for a 40-year-old
Cheapest Plan in Washington With an HSA
A health savings account, or HSA, is available with several Washington health insurance policies. HSAs are tax-free savings accounts that you may use to pay your insurance deductibles, copays and other medical expenses. Only if you purchase a high-deductible insurance plan will you be able to open an HSA.
If you are in excellent health and have low medical costs, you may benefit from an HSA. In a medical emergency, you can utilize your HSA to cover your deductible and copay. These plans are less costly and offer pre-tax medical payments. If you don't need the money for medical expenditures right now, it will accumulate as savings for future medical costs.
According to MoneyGeek’s research, the following health care plan in Washington is the cheapest with an HSA:
- Cheapest HSA Bronze Plan: LifeWise Essential Bronze HSA provided by LifeWise WA costs an average of $319 per month for a 40-year-old
As previously stated, HSA plans usually have higher deductibles. If you experience an unanticipated medical emergency that necessitates significant hospital expenses, you must be prepared to invest a large amount of your savings as a deductible.
What to Know About Health Insurance in Washington
MoneyGeek's analysis used sample data from Washington's private insurance marketplace to calculate the cheapest health insurance premiums. The prices in our study may not be the most affordable available to you, depending on your circumstances. Residents from low-income households or seniors may be eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, which are typically much cheaper than marketplace plans.
Private Health Insurance on the Washington Marketplace
The state's insurance exchange divides health care plans in Washington into three metal tiers: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Bronze plans have the cheapest premiums but the highest out-of-pocket maximums. On the other hand, Gold plans have higher monthly premiums, but the overall cost to you will be cheaper if you utilize many healthcare services. In addition, Gold plans offer very low deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. In any case, all plans provide the same critical health coverage.
All of the levels mentioned below meet state and federal requirements for health insurance in Washington. They do, however, differ in several respects.
- Bronze: Bronze insurance policies are significantly less expensive than higher-tiered insurance plans. Despite their low monthly rates, their deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums are high. Some Bronze plans have deductibles in the thousands of dollars. These plans are ideal for healthy individuals who seldom have medical costs and are simply looking for low-cost health insurance coverage to protect them in the case of a medical emergency.
- Silver: Choose a Silver plan if you want your insurance to cover more of your regular medical expenses. They are less expensive than Gold-tier insurance plans and have lower deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums than Bronze plans. They are perfect for those who are eligible for cost-sharing reductions. When compared to Bronze-tier policies, these plans can help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year if you need a lot of medical care.
- Gold: Gold policies feature higher monthly premiums but lower out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles than Bronze and Silver policies. These plans will benefit those who need frequent medical care and are ready to pay higher premiums to cover the majority of their medical costs. If you require regular medical treatments, the overall cost of a Gold plan will be significantly lower than that of a lower-tier plan, and you may save thousands of dollars.
MoneyGeek's data only reflects sample rates; you may be eligible for lower-cost plans or additional coverage. The income level of your family might have a considerable effect on your insurance prices. If you are a member of a family with a monthly income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, you may be eligible for premium tax credits. These tax credits are available to two-person households in Washington with annual earnings ranging from $17,420 to $69,680. You may get more information on this by using the HealthCare.gov calculator.
During the open enrollment period, which typically occurs between November and December, a person can enroll in a new health insurance plan through the health insurance exchange. Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, the government has extended the deadline. Furthermore, life events like marriage, losing health insurance, having a child or relocating may qualify you for a special enrollment period. Job-based insurance plans may have different enrollment periods. It should be emphasized that there is no time limit for submitting an application for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
If your household income is between 138% and 250% of the federal poverty level, you may be eligible for cost-sharing reductions (CSR) under a Silver plan. Those who qualify may even obtain the coverage of a Gold plan for the cost of a Silver plan. This lowers the plan's deductible, copayments or coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximums. A two-person household earning between $24,040 and $43,550 in Washington may be eligible for these discounted prices in 2021.
Medicaid in Washington
Medicaid is free, and that makes it the most cost-effective option for qualifying Washington residents. Since Washington is a Medicaid expansion state, you can get free Medicaid if your family income is less than 138% of the federal poverty line.
Medicare in Washington
Medicare, a federal healthcare program, may be available to Washington residents over the age of 65, as well as individuals under the age of 65 who have a qualifying disability or illness. In contrast to Medicaid, which is typically free, you may need to pay for certain Medicare plan services. Medicare policies are still considerably less expensive than private health insurance plans.
Medicare is divided into three sections, each of which covers a distinct service:
- Part A: Hospital insurance, also known as Part A, provides coverage for hospital stays, hospice care, skilled nursing facility care and some home-based health care.
- Part B: Part B is your medical insurance for doctor's services, outpatient treatments, medical supplies and preventive care.
- Part D: This includes prescription medicines as well as some necessary vaccinations. Prescription drug insurance is another name for Part D.
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 Washington for you
MoneyGeek collected plans and premiums for health insurance in Washington from the website for Washington Health Plan Finder for all available metal tiers and across several age groups. Plans and premiums were analyzed in May 2021.
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.