Aside from Silver plans, other metal tiers have different deductibles, premiums and maximum out-of-pocket limits in South Carolina.
MoneyGeek also found the best health insurance in South Carolina by analyzing providers and plans balance cost and service.
Most Affordable Health Insurance in South Carolina
Cheapest Health Insurance in South Carolina by Metal Tier
The cheapest health insurance for the average individual in South Carolina is Cigna Connect 0B, offered by Cigna Healthcare of South Carolina, averaging $484 per month.
Health insurance premiums change according to the metal tier. When a plan is more expensive, it provides more comprehensive coverage.
Here are the most affordable plans according to metal tier and their average premiums:
- Catastrophic: BlueEssentials Catastrophic 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($254 per month)
- Bronze: First Choice Next Bronze 9100 from First Choice Next ($360 per month)
- Expanded Bronze: BlueExclusive Cooper Bronze 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($337 per month)
- Silver: Cigna Connect 0B from Cigna Healthcare of South Carolina ($484 per month)
- Gold: BlueExclusive Cooper Gold 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($489 per month)
Health insurance plans with lower premiums offer primary health care costs, but more valuable metal tiers, such as Gold or Platinum, cost more monthly but provide more health care benefits and lower maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) costs.
Metal tiers categorize health insurance plans. The more valuable the metal tier — for example, Gold — the more it costs but with lower MOOP costs.
Younger and more active individuals may choose a lower metal tier plan. Still, those who can afford it or need more health care may choose a higher metal tier.
Still, Silver plans balance affordability and lower deductibles that suit your budget.
Cheapest Silver Plans in South Carolina
The cheapest Silver plan in South Carolina is Cigna Connect 0B from Cigna Healthcare of South Carolina, costing $484 monthly.
These are the top three Silver plans in the state:
- Cigna Connect 0B from Cigna Healthcare of South Carolina: $484 per month
- Cigna Connect 7500 from Cigna Healthcare of South Carolina: $488 per month
- Cigna Simple Choice 5800 from Cigna Healthcare of South Carolina: $489 per month
Silver plans are the usual choice for health plans because it combines affordability and lower deductibles than most Bronze plans. If you qualify for a cost-sharing reduction (CSR), it will lower your monthly premium, exclusively available with Silver plans.
HMO is the most accessible type in South Carolina. This is why MoneyGeek focuses its recommendations on HMO plans in this section.
Cheapest Gold Plans in South Carolina
The cheapest Gold plan in South Carolina is BlueExclusive Cooper Gold 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which costs $489 monthly.
These are the top most affordable Gold plans in the state:
- BlueExclusive Cooper Gold 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $489 per month
- BlueExclusive Pee Dee Gold 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $498 per month
- CMS Standard Gold from Ambetter: $524 per month
Gold plans offer better deductibles than lower-tier plans. You pay less for your health care needs and services before your insurance covers your expenses. However, Gold plans don’t offer the cost-sharing reductions that most Silver plans provide.
Cheapest Bronze Plans in South Carolina
The cheapest Bronze plan in South Carolina is First Choice Next Bronze 9100 from First Choice Next, costing $360 per month.
These are the other affordable plans you may consider:
- First Choice Next Bronze 9100 from First Choice Next: $360 per month
- CMS Standard Bronze from Ambetter: $371 per month
- BlueEssentials Standard Bronze from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $373 per month
Bronze plans cost the least in monthly premiums but have the most expensive deductibles. You’ll pay more out of pocket for your routine care.
Cheapest Expanded Bronze Plans in South Carolina
BlueExclusive Cooper Bronze 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield is the cheapest Expanded Bronze plan in South Carolina. It costs $337 per month.
These are the top three cheapest plans you might consider:
- BlueExclusive Cooper Bronze 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $337 per month
- BlueExclusive Pee Dee Bronze 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $342 per month
- BlueExclusive Reedy Bronze 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $366 per month
Expanded Bronze plans are between Bronze and Silver plans. It covers your office visits and one primary service before your deductible. Hence, there’s a copay.
Cheapest Catastrophic Plans in South Carolina
The cheapest Catastrophic plan in South Carolina is BlueEssentials Catastrophic 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield. It costs $204 per month for a 26-year-old buyer.
Catastrophic plans are available to individuals under the age of 30 experiencing a qualifying hardship. They cover all the primary benefits but come with very high deductibles.
Cheapest Health Insurance in South Carolina for Those With Low Income
In South Carolina, cost-sharing reductions are available to eligible residents whose income is below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). A cost-sharing reduction (CSR) reduces the financial burden of health care costs after treatment.
MoneyGeek discovered that the cheapest plan for low-income individuals in South Carolina is Cigna Connect 0B from Cigna Healthcare of South Carolina.
Here are the MOOP costs based on income:
- Income lower than $20,385 per year: Cigna Connect 0B ($1,000 MOOP)
- Income from $28,386 to $27,180 per year: Cigna Connect 0B ($3,000 MOOP)
- Income from $27,181 to $47,565 per year: Cigna Connect 0B ($7,250 MOOP)
Note that CSRs only apply to Silver plans in South Carolina. If you have more members in your household, the cost-sharing reductions will also fluctuate.
Cost-sharing plans don’t impact your premiums in any way. These allow health insurance providers to pay more for your medical expenses. Your deductible, copay and maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) expenses are lower than they would be.
When you purchase Cigna Connect 0B, you may pay a monthly premium of $484 for standard and low-income plans. However, there’s a significant difference in the MOOP. A standard plan has an average MOOP of $9,100. On the other hand, if your income is below 150% of the FPL, your MOOP is $1,000.
The Cheapest Health Insurance in South Carolina by Plan Type
A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan is the most common plan type in South Carolina. However, alternative plan types like Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans are available.
Based on MoneyGeek’s research, the most affordable health insurance in South Carolina for HMO and EPO plan types are:
- HMO: Cigna Connect 0B from Cigna Healthcare of South Carolina ($484 per month)
- EPO: BlueExclusive Cooper Silver 2 from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($493 per month)
An EPO plan offers more flexibility when finding services from out-of-network providers and consulting specialists without a referral.
Shopping for health insurance in South Carolina, you’ll see HMO as the most common plan type, followed by EPO.
- HMO: These plans are the most affordable but aren't the most flexible. You’ll be required to seek treatment from facilities and providers within the network, except for emergencies. You’ll also need a primary care provider to give referrals for consulting specialists.
- EPO: Like HMOs, EPO plans can be obtained via in-network providers. But, EPOs have a broader network and may not need referrals for consulting specialists.
Cheapest Health Insurance in South Carolina by County
Some plan types are not accessible in South Carolina and may not be available in your area. Hence, the cheapest plan in one county may be less affordable in another.
For example, the cheapest Silver plan in South Carolina’s largest county, Greenville, and the smallest, Allendale, are the following:
- Greenville: First Choice Next Silver 5800 ($526 per month)
- Allendale: Constant Care Silver 8 ($435 per month)
You can browse the table below to check various Silver plan options available in your county.
Health Insurance Costs in South Carolina by Age and Metal Tier
Health insurance premiums change depending on age and preferred metal tier. For example, check how metal tiers affect the average monthly premium for a 40-year-old in South Carolina:
- Bronze: $758
- Catastrophic: $254
- Expanded Bronze: $832
- Silver: $1,072
- Gold: $1,137
Monthly premiums increase as you age. For example, a Silver plan in South Carolina costs an average of $766 for a young adult (around 18 years old), $1,498 for a middle-aged adult and $2,277 for a senior.
What to Know About South Carolina Health Insurance
MoneyGeek gathered data from different private health insurance plans to determine the cheapest health insurance in South Carolina. Interested individuals can browse these plans during open enrollment and choose the plan that best suits their coverage level and healthcare needs.
South Carolina residents may also check if they qualify for more affordable government-supported health insurance programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid is available to low-income individuals, while Medicare caters to seniors and those with disabilities.
Private Health Insurance in the South Carolina Marketplace
Open enrollment for private insurance plans usually starts from November 1 to January 15.
December 15, 2023, would be the last day to enroll for coverage starting on January 1, 2024. Early enrollment gives you more time to modify your plan before the period ends.
Qualified South Carolina residents may also purchase private health insurance during a special enrollment period outside the open enrollment period.
Eligibility for special enrollment is based on specific events like marriage, relocation, income loss, childbirth and other similar occurrences. You generally have up to 60 days before or after the event to apply for or change your health insurance.
What Are Health Insurance Metal Tiers?
Health insurance plans in South Carolina are categorized into metal tiers: Bronze, Expanded Bronze, Silver and Gold.
- Bronze: Affordable premiums with higher deductibles. These plans best suit relatively healthy individuals who don’t expect frequent medical visits. It’s not recommended for those with chronic illnesses and health conditions.
- Expanded Bronze: Slightly more cost-sharing than Bronze plans but still less than Silver plans.
- Silver: The most popular choice with average premiums and MOOP costs. A significant advantage of Silver plans is the opportunity to lower your copay, co-insurance and deductible with cost-sharing reductions.
- Gold: Higher premiums than Silver and Bronze plans, but you’ll pay less out of pocket if you receive regular care.
Catastrophic plans, or worst-case scenario coverage, are also available to eligible individuals who are generally under 30 or have a hardship exemption. These plans usually are the most affordable in terms of premiums but have the most expensive MOOP costs.
Medicaid in South Carolina
Medicaid is a government program that offers free or low-cost medical coverage to eligible individuals according to income.
However, Medicaid expansion has not reached South Carolina, so not everyone can qualify based on income. Those with low income, children of low-income parents, those with disabilities or pregnant women are generally qualified.
Medicare in South Carolina
Another government-sponsored health care program is Medicare. It’s more affordable than marketplace plans, which South Carolina residents over 65 or with a qualifying illness or disability can purchase.
Medicare has three parts — Part A, B and D — that each cover a specific set of services:
- Part A is similar to hospital insurance and covers inpatient services, hospice care, home care and services received in any facility with skilled nurses.
- Part B functions like medical insurance, covering doctor and preventative service fees and outpatient treatment.
- Part D covers prescription drugs, vaccines and other shots.
South Carolina Health Insurance Frequently Asked Questions
Shopping for health insurance in South Carolina can be daunting. MoneyGeek answered the most commonly asked questions below.
About Mark Fitzpatrick
- HealthCare.gov. "Health Plan Categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold & Platinum." Accessed January 13, 2023.
- HealthCare.gov. "Special Enrollment Period." Accessed January 13, 2023.
- HealthCare.gov. "Federal poverty level (FPL)." Accessed January 13, 2023.