Health insurance companies offer metal tiers that vary in premiums, deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) limits. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the cheapest company for Silver and Expanded Bronze plans. The most affordable for Bronze is Oscar. For a Gold plan, it's Molina, and for Platinum, it's Health Alliance Medical Plans.
MoneyGeek also found the best health insurance in Illinois by analyzing providers and plans balance cost and service.
Most Affordable Health Insurance in Illinois
Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois by Metal Tier
Blue FocusCare Silver℠ 210 from Blue Cross Blue Shield is the cheapest health insurance Silver plan in Illinois. Its average premium is $375 per month, with an average MOOP of $9,100.
More valuable metal tiers can be expensive, but they can reduce out-of-pocket costs. Silver plans are the middle ground, as they balance the cost of your premium and your deductible. The most affordable plan by tier are the following:
- Platinum: 2023 POS 0 Elite Platinum from Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc. ($838 per month)
- Gold: Confident Care Gold 1 + Vision from Molina ($409 per month)
- Silver: Blue FocusCare Silver℠ 210 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($375 per month)
- Bronze: Bronze Simple - Standard (Select) from Oscar ($288 per month)
- Expanded Bronze: Blue FocusCare Bronze℠ 209 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($294 per month)
- Catastrophic: WellFirst Catastrophic Safety Net (Free Transportation) from WellFirst Health ($285 per month)
Having a higher monthly premium can give you lower out-of-pocket costs. Although you’re paying more monthly, you won’t have to worry about spending personal funds in case of medical emergencies.
Health insurance plans are classified into metal tiers. A Gold plan may be more expensive than a Bronze plan, but you can have a lower deductible with a Gold plan. A Silver plan can have cheaper rates for lower deductibles.
Resource: Learn more about metal tiers
Cheapest Silver Plans in Illinois
Blue FocusCare Silver℠ 210 from Blue Cross Blue Shield is the cheapest Silver plan in Illinois, with an average cost of $375 per month. The most affordable Silver plans in Illinois are:
- Blue FocusCare Silver℠ 210 from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $375 per month
- Silver Sample - PCP Saver (Select) from Oscar: $385 per month
- Silver Classic - Standard (Select) from Oscar: $388 per month
Silver plans are often popular since they provide a good balance of cost, coverage and out-of-pocket costs. While higher-tier plans, like Gold and Platinum, have higher premiums, they have more coverage and lower out-of-pocket expenses. Lower tiers, like Bronze, are the opposite.
In Illinois, the most accessible plan type is an HMO. This is why the recommendations in the table below only feature HMO plans.
Cheapest Gold Plans in Illinois
Confident Care Gold 1 + Vision from Molina is the cheapest Gold plan with an average premium of $409 per month. Here are the most affordable options under this metal tier:
- Confident Care Gold 1 + Vision from Molina: $409 per month
- Confident Care Gold 1 from Molina: $411 per month
- Gold Classic - Standard (Select) from Oscar: $419 per month
Gold plans are typically more expensive than most metal tiers. However, it can cover more of your health care expenses with lower out-of-pocket costs. It’s a good choice if you don’t mind paying more for your premium.
Cheapest Bronze Plans in Illinois
Bronze Simple - Standard (Select) from Oscar is the most affordable Bronze plan in Illinois. It only costs $288 per month for a policy. The cheapest Bronze plans are the following:
- Bronze Simple - Standard (Select) from Oscar: $288 per month
- CMS Standard Bronze from Ambetter: $313 per month
- Bronze Simple - Standard (Choice) from Oscar: $322 per month
Bronze plans are some of your most affordable options for health insurance plans. However, lower rates come with higher MOOPs. These plans can be good if you’re not anticipating regular treatments or routine checkups.
Cheapest Expanded Bronze Plans in Illinois
Blue FocusCare Bronze℠ 209 from Blue Cross Blue Shield is the cheapest Expanded Bronze plan in Illinois, with an average premium of $294 per month. The most affordable Expanded Bronze plans are the following:
- Blue FocusCare Bronze℠ 209 from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $294 per month
- Bronze Classic (Select) from Oscar: $302 per month
- Bronze Simple - $5,200 Ded (Select) from Oscar: $317 per month
Expanded Bronze and Bronze plans depend on your circumstances, but both are generally cheaper than other tiers. Their significant difference is that Expanded Bronze plans may cover some services even before you meet your deductible.
Cheapest Catastrophic Plans in Illinois
The cheapest Catastrophic plan is WellFirst Catastrophic Safety Net (Free Transportation) from WellFirst Health. This plan costs $229 per month, on average, for a 26-year-old. The most affordable Catastrophic plans in Illinois are:
- WellFirst Catastrophic Safety Net (Free Transportation) from WellFirst Health: $229 per month
- Secure (Choice) from Oscar: $247 per month
- 2023 HMO 9100 Elite Catastrophic from Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc.: $305 per month
Catastrophic plans often have cheap premiums but high out-of-pocket costs. It might be a good option if you want to be covered in emergencies while still saving money on your premiums.
Cheapest Platinum Plans in Illinois
The cheapest Platinum Plan in Illinois is 2023 POS 0 Elite Platinum from Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc. The average premium for this plan is $838 per month.
Platinum plans are the most expensive among the metal tiers but have the least out-of-pocket costs. Even though you’re paying more monthly, you won’t have to worry about sourcing funds in times of emergency.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois for Those With Low Income
Cost-sharing reductions are available for individuals whose income falls below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). They allow you to have smaller out-of-pocket costs in case you undergo treatment.
Premiums vary based on income. Depending on which category you fall under, the cheapest plans in Illinois are:
- Income lower than $20,385 per year (less than 150% of FPL): Blue FocusCare Silver℠ 210 ($2,700 MOOP)
- Income from $28,386 to $27,180 per year (151% to 200% of FPL): Blue FocusCare Silver℠ 210 ($3,000 MOOP)
- Income from $27,181 to $47,565 per year (201% to 250% of FPL): Blue FocusCare Silver℠ 210 ($7,250 MOOP)
These income brackets are for an individual. If you have more members in your household, the cost-sharing reduction will fluctuate. These recommendations are exclusively for Silver plans.
Cost-sharing plans primarily affect the MOOP, deductible and copayment, not your premium. Although premiums are not cheaper for these plans, they cover more of your expenses in case of medical treatment.
For example, a Blue FocusCare Silver℠ 210 has an average premium of $375 per month for both standard and low-income plans. However, the average MOOP cost of a standard plan is $9,100, while the average MOOP for those with income below 150% of the FPL is only $2,700.
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois by Plan Type
Most plans in Illinois are Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, but you can also look into other plan types. Point of Service (POS) and Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans may also be available. If you’re looking for the cheapest alternative plans, you can consider the following:
- POS: 2023 POS 7250 Elite Silver from Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc. ($636 per month)
- PPO: Blue Choice Preferred Silver PPO℠ 203 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($638 per month)
PPO and POS offer more flexible out-of-network services than HMO’s in-network coverage.
HMO, PPO and POS are available in Illinois, so you may come across these terms when you’re looking for health insurance:
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans are the most common plan type since they’re affordable. They only offer coverage for in-network services, which means you can only receive medical services from specific establishments and professionals.
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans are more expensive and flexible than HMO plans because of their broader network.
- Point of Service (POS) plans are even more flexible, as they have in- and out-of-network coverage. However, premiums can be high.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Illinois by County
The insurance plans available may differ based on your location. As a result, your location may also be one of the factors that influence the cheapest option for you.
To illustrate the difference, we compared health insurance rates in the largest and the fourth-smallest counties in Illinois — Cook County and Scott County, respectively:
- Cook County: Blue FocusCare Silver℠ 210 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($375 per month)
- Scott County: UHC Silver Virtual First (Unlimited App-based Care, Preferred Rx) (Disponible en español) from UnitedHealthcare ($858 per month)
You can shop for health insurance in different counties to find the cheapest options.
Health Insurance Costs in Illinois by Age and Metal Tier
Metal tiers significantly impact the cost of health insurance in Illinois. On average, a 40-year-old individual in Illinois can have the following monthly premiums:
- Platinum: $838
- Gold: $2,029
- Silver: $1,792
- Bronze: $845
- Expanded Bronze: $1,480
- Catastrophic: $813
A high metal tier, like Platinum and Gold, may cost more, but they have lower out-of-pocket costs. Lower metal tiers, like Silver and Bronze, are cheaper but offer less coverage if treatment is needed.
The plan that suits you best depends on your health care needs and preferred coverage level.
Health insurance premiums tend to increase as you age. A Silver plan for a 40-year-old would average $1,792 per month. This amount would increase to $3,805 per month for a 60-year-old individual.
What to Know About Illinois Health Insurance
MoneyGeek gathered private providers' data for health insurance plans to find the cheapest options. People with varying coverage levels and needs can get these plans during open enrollment.
Low-income individuals may consider getting Medicaid. Seniors and people with disabilities can also get Medicare. These programs tend to be tailored to eligible individuals’ needs. They’re also cheaper than standard plans.
Private Health Insurance in the Illinois Marketplace
You can purchase health insurance in Illinois during the open enrollment period. Generally, this is the only time you can get health insurance coverage for the upcoming year. For 2024, the open enrollment period will run from November 1, 2023, to January 15, 2024.
Signing up before December 15 will give you the advantage of being covered at the very start of the upcoming year.
You can only purchase a policy outside of regular open enrollment if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Qualifications include having experienced certain life events like moving, giving birth, getting married or adopting a child. This period can last for 60 days before or after the life event or 30 days for job-based plans.
What Are Health Insurance Metal Tiers?
Health insurance plans have different metal tiers. Much like real metals, the most valuable ones are the most expensive, and the least valuable ones are the cheapest. The available metal tiers in Illinois are Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Expanded Bronze and Catastrophic.
- Platinum: This has the most expensive premiums out of all the tiers, but it has the lowest MOOP. Platinum plans may be a good option if you need regular medical treatments since you don’t have to pay as much out of pocket before your policy can start covering the expenses.
- Gold: Gold plans are still considerably expensive, but they have lower deductibles. This can be a reasonable option if you want to reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
- Silver: Silver plans are popular for balancing deductibles and premiums. These plans can have affordable rates and inexpensive MOOP. You can also take advantage of cost-sharing reductions if your income falls below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
- Bronze: These plans have cheap rates but high out-of-pocket costs. If you don’t need regular medical attention or don’t anticipate any treatments, this can be a good option.
- Expanded Bronze: This tier is relatively similar to Bronze, except it has more coverage. As it is still a Bronze plan, it’s cheaper than most tiers — but with a more affordable MOOP.
- Catastrophic: Catastrophic plans can cover the medical expenses of emergencies. They’re cheap, but your deductible and MOOP can be high. As a result, doctor’s appointments and other medical expenses may not be covered. It’s only affordable for those under 30 or someone experiencing a qualified financial hardship.
Metal tiers don’t affect the quality of service you receive from your insurance company or policy. It only affects your coverage, premiums and MOOP. Because of this, it can significantly influence the cost of your health insurance in Illinois. Nevertheless, the amount of coverage or the metal tier you choose depends on your medical and personal needs.
Medicaid in Illinois
Illinois is a Medicaid expansion state, so those with income between 138% and 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) can be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is a public health insurance program. It allows more people to get health care coverage despite their income. Millions of people have been granted access to affordable health insurance through Medicaid, helping them receive affordable health care.
Medicare in Illinois
Medicare is a federal government program available for those who are over 65 and have certain illnesses or disabilities. This program can cover medical expenses as long as they fall under the following parts:
- Part A covers costs if you’re admitted to a hospital or a nursing facility or receive hospice care.
- Part B covers outpatient care, doctor’s fees, medical supplies and preventive services.
- Part D can cover your prescription drugs and vaccines.
Illinois Health Insurance Frequently Asked Questions
Those shopping for health insurance in Illinois may have several questions about cost and availability. MoneyGeek answered some of these questions to help you find the best plan for your needs.
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- HealthCare.gov. "Federal poverty level (FPL)." Accessed January 13, 2023.