Cheapest Health Insurance in South Carolina (2024 Plans)
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Health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs shift with each metal tier. In South Carolina, First Choice Next offers the most affordable Bronze option, while Ambetter is the cheapest for Silver and Blue Cross Blue Shield provides the cheapest Gold and Catastrophic plans.
If you are looking to balance monthly premiums with quality claims and coverage, MoneyGeek also analyzed the best health insurance in South Carolina.
Most Affordable Health Insurance in South Carolina
Cheapest Health Insurance in South Carolina by Metal Tier
In South Carolina, the most cost-effective option in the popular Silver tier is the Clear Silver plan provided by Ambetter, with a monthly cost of $488. Silver plans strike a balance between monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. For individuals who are willing to accept higher out-of-pocket expenses for lower monthly rates, Bronze plans present a budget-friendly alternative.
Health insurance expenses are largely determined by the metal tier, as this affects the balance of premium costs against deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.
Here are the most affordable health insurance plans from each metal tier:
- Catastrophic: BlueEssentials Catastrophic 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($258 per month) - Available only to those under 30 or with a qualifying hardship.
- Bronze: First Choice Next Bronze Classic 9450 + No-Referrals from First Choice Next ($354 per month)
- Expanded Bronze: Blue Cooper Standard Expanded Bronze from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($344 per month)
- Gold: Blue Cooper Gold 1 Blue Cross Blue Shield ($508 per month)
- Silver: Clear Silver from Ambetter ($488 per month)
For a deeper dive into affordable options, explore cheap health insurance plans that fit a variety of needs and budgets.
Consumers can access several metal tiers in the South Carolina health insurance marketplace, including Bronze, Expanded Bronze, Silver and Gold. Those under 30 or with a hardship exemption can also access Catastrophic plans. Each metal tier represents a different level of cost-sharing between the insurer and the consumer.
Bronze plans typically have the lowest monthly premiums but the highest out-of-pocket expenses when accessing care. Silver plans are a middle-ground option, offering more balanced premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Gold plans have higher monthly premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs when care is needed.
Ultimately, the choice of metal tier depends on one's health needs and financial situation, with trade-offs between the security of lower out-of-pocket costs and the affordability of monthly premiums. Those eligible for cost-sharing reductions on Silver plans can significantly benefit by receiving a level of coverage that they might not be able to afford otherwise.
Cheapest Silver Plans in South Carolina
The cheapest Silver health plan in South Carolina is the Clear Silver plan from Ambetter, with a monthly cost of $488.
The three most affordable Silver plans in South Carolina are:
- Clear Silver from Ambetter ($488 per month)
- Standard Silver from Ambetter ($492 per month)
- Focused Silver from Ambetter ($502 per month)
Silver plans are ideal for individuals anticipating moderate health care needs. These plans offer a reasonable balance of monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. With cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), lower-income individuals and families can benefit from lower out-of-pocket expenses, making Silver plans even more affordable.
Cheapest Gold Plans in South Carolina
The Blue Cooper Gold 1 plan by Blue Cross Blue Shield is the most affordable Gold plan in South Carolina, priced at $508 per month.
The three most affordable Gold health plans available in South Carolina include:
- Blue Cooper Gold 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($508 per month)
- Standard Gold from Ambetter ($512 per month)
- Everyday Gold from Ambetter ($513 per month)
Gold plans are designed for customers who anticipate needing health care services more frequently and prefer the reassurance of lower out-of-pocket costs when accessing care.
Cheapest Bronze Plans in South Carolina
The most affordable Bronze plan in South Carolina is the First Choice Next Bronze Classic 9450 + No-Referrals from First Choice Next, with a monthly cost of $354.
The two cheapest Bronze plans in South Carolina are:
- First Choice Next Bronze Classic 9450 + No-Referrals from First Choice Next ($354 per month)
- UHC Bronze Essential from UnitedHealthcare ($395 per month)
Bronze plans are typically best suited for individuals who want to keep their monthly premiums low and are comfortable with higher out-of-pocket costs when seeking medical care. They are ideal for those who are generally healthy and require minimal health services.
Cheapest Expanded Bronze Plans in South Carolina
The most affordable Expanded Bronze plan in South Carolina is the Blue Cooper Standard Expanded Bronze offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield at a monthly cost of $344.
The three cheapest Expanded Bronze plans in South Carolina are:
- Blue Cooper Standard Expanded Bronze from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($344 per month)
- Blue Cooper Bronze 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($348 per month)
- Blue Pee Dee Standard Expanded Bronze from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($350 per month)
Expanded Bronze plans offer lower monthly premiums compared to Silver or Gold plans, but they do come with higher out-of-pocket costs. They are ideal for those who are relatively healthy and do not expect to need significant medical care but want slightly more coverage than standard Bronze plans.
Cheapest Catastrophic Plans in South Carolina
There is only one Catastrophic plan available in South Carolina, making it the cheapest by default. It is the BlueEssentials Catastrophic 1 offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield at a monthly cost of $207.
Catastrophic plans are designed for adults under 30 or those with a hardship exemption. These plans have low premiums but high out-of-pocket costs, so they're best for those who want to minimize monthly expenses while still having a safety net for major medical events. They are not recommended for those who expect regular medical visits or need frequent prescriptions.
Cheapest Health Insurance in South Carolina for Those With Low Income
Individuals in South Carolina earning up to 250% of the federal poverty level can qualify for cost-sharing reductions on Silver plans. These savings reduce health care expenses by decreasing deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.
For those with incomes between $14,580 and $21,870 annually, the most cost-effective Silver plan is Ambetter Clear Silver with a maximum out-of-pocket cost (MOOP)of $550.
The two most affordable Silver plans with their maximum out-of-pocket costs are:
- Ambetter Clear Silver ($488 per month; $550 MOOP)
- Ambetter Standard Silver ($492 per month; $1,800MOOP)
To access cost-sharing reductions in South Carolina, you need to purchase a Silver plan. Income eligibility noted here is for single individuals and varies for different household sizes.
Cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) lower the amount you pay for deductibles, copayments and co-insurance. To qualify for CSRs, you must select Silver plans from the Health Insurance Marketplace and have a household income between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level. For example, for a 40-year-old, the Ambetter Clear Silver plan normally has an MOOP of $5,400. However, with a 94% actuarial value (AV) level Silver Plan, indicative of high CSR, the MOOP is only $550.
Cheapest Health Insurance in South Carolina by Plan Type
In South Carolina, the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is the most popular plan type. Residents of South Carolina also have access to Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans.
The most affordable health plan in South Carolina for the HMO type is the Clear Silver from Ambetter at $488 per month.
- HMO: Clear Silver from Ambetter ($488)
- EPO: BlueEssentials Silver 38 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($580)
The most common health insurance plan type in South Carolina is the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan, but Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans are also available. Here are the differences between the plan types:
Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO): EPO plans often have higher premiums and larger provider networks than HMO plans. They don't require a primary care physician referral to see a specialist. Going outside the plan network typically results in no coverage except for emergencies. Members must be careful to use in-network services, or they will bear the full cost.
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) HMO plans usually have lower premiums than other plans. They emphasize preventive care and cover a broad range of health care services if you use the doctors and hospitals within the HMO network. HMO plans require members to select a primary care physician (PCP) who manages their care and provides referrals to specialists. Out-of-network care is not covered except for emergencies.
Cheapest Health Insurance in South Carolina by County
Health insurance rates and availability of certain plans vary by county in South Carolina. Comparing the most affordable plans in the largest and smallest counties by population highlights this variation:
- Greenville: "Clear Silver" from Ambetter ($516 per month)
- Allendale: "Silver 12" from Molina ($465 per month)
The following table details all the available plans in each county in South Carolina.
Health Insurance Costs in South Carolina by Age and Metal Tier
In South Carolina, health insurance costs vary by age. An 18-year-old with a Silver plan pays about $399 per month, while a 60-year-old with the same plan type pays about $1,185 per month — a difference of $786.
Metal tiers also impact of the cost of health insurance plans. For example, a 40-year-old with a Bronze plan pays around $378 per month, but if they choose a Gold plan, they pay about $580 per month. That means the Gold plan costs $202 more, offering more features and coverage compared to the Bronze plan.
What to Know About Health Insurance in South Carolina
MoneyGeek broke down the health insurance options in South Carolina, including private insurance found in the marketplace with different metal tiers, Medicaid and Medicare. Familiarizing yourself with the available options will help you choose the best coverage for you and your family.
Private Health Insurance in the South Carolina Marketplace
In South Carolina, the open enrollment period for purchasing private health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace typically runs from November 1st to December 15th each year. This is when residents can shop for new health plans, adjust existing coverage or enroll for the first time. If you miss the December 15th deadline, you may have to wait until the next open enrollment period unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) due to life events like marriage, having a baby or losing other coverage. SEPs allow you to enroll outside the standard period, but you must apply within 60 days of the qualifying event.
Medicaid in South Carolina
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program designed to provide health care assistance to low-income individuals and families. In South Carolina, eligibility for Medicaid is determined by various factors, including income, family size and special circumstances such as pregnancy or disability. Individuals who meet the state's requirements, such as children, pregnant women, older adults and those with disabilities, can receive various health care services, from doctor visits to long-term care. To qualify, South Carolina residents must apply and meet specific guidelines that align with the federal poverty level and other state-specific criteria.
Medicare in South Carolina
Medicare is a federal health care program primarily for individuals who are 65 or older. However, some younger people with disabilities or those with End-Stage Renal Disease may also qualify in South Carolina. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care and some home health care. Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive services. Part C, or Medicare Advantage, is an alternative to Original Medicare, offering additional benefits through private insurance companies. Part D provides prescription drug coverage.
South Carolina Health Insurance FAQ
When looking for health insurance, you may have questions about cost and availability. MoneyGeek responded to frequently asked questions about cheap private health insurance in South Carolina to help you learn more.
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