Tennessee offers different metal tier plans with variable premiums, deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) costs. In addition to Silver plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield also offers the cheapest Bronze and Expanded Bronze plans. Oscar offers the most affordable Catastrophic plan, while Ambetter offers the cheapest Gold plan.
MoneyGeek also found the best health insurance in Tennessee by analyzing providers and plans balance cost and service.
Most Affordable Health Insurance in Tennessee
Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee by Metal Tier
The cheapest Silver plan for the average Tennessee resident is Blue Cross Blue Shield's Silver S27L $60 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth, which costs $455 per month.
Health insurance premiums vary by metal tier. Typically, a more expensive plan offers more comprehensive coverage. The following policies are the most affordable health insurance plans in Tennessee for various metal tier plans:
- Catastrophic: Secure from Oscar ($319)
- Bronze: Bronze B15L + Free Telehealth from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($349)
- Expanded Bronze: Bronze B14L $70 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($358)
- Silver: Silver S27L $60 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth from Blue Cross Blue Shield ($455)
- Gold: CMS Standard Gold SELECT from Ambetter ($461)
Compared to plans with lower premiums that barely cover any medical services, more valuable metal tiers, like Gold or Platinum, have more expensive premiums, lower out-of-pocket maximums and more benefits.
Health insurance plans are grouped into metal tiers based on coverage amount and cost. More valuable metals, like Gold and Platinum, have higher monthly premiums, lower out-of-pocket costs and more coverage. Young, healthy people may opt for less valuable metal tiers, like Bronze and Expanded Bronze, since they don’t require medical care as often. Silver plans, which can include CSRs for those that qualify, are an excellent compromise between cost and coverage for individuals on a budget.
Cheapest Silver Plans in Tennessee
Blue Cross Blue Shield provides the cheapest Silver plan in Tennessee. Its Silver S27L $60 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth services plan costs $455 per month. The three cheapest Silver plans in the state are:
- Silver S27L $60 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $455 per month
- Clear SELECT Silver with Select Providers from Ambetter: $459 per month
- CMS Standard Silver SELECT from Ambetter: $460 per month
Silver plans are the most popular plan types since they provide more coverage and feature lower deductibles than Bronze plans. Silver plans also include CSRs, which reduce the cost of your out-of-pocket expenses.
Cheapest Gold Plans in Tennessee
The cheapest Gold plan in Tennessee is Ambetter's CMS Standard Gold SELECT at $461 per month. The top-three cheapest Gold plans in the state are:
- CMS Standard Gold SELECT from Ambetter: $461 per month
- Everyday SELECT Gold with Select Providers from Ambetter: $466 per month
- Complete SELECT Gold with Select Providers from Ambetter: $487 per month
Your out-of-pocket costs before your insurance coverage kicks in are lower with a Gold plan. Unlike Silver plans, however, Gold plans do not provide CSRs.
Cheapest Bronze Plans in Tennessee
The Bronze B15L + Free Telehealth plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield is Tennessee's cheapest Bronze plan, costing around $349 per month. In Tennessee, the following are the three most affordable Bronze plans:
- Bronze B15L + Free Telehealth from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $349 per month
- CMS Standard Bronze from Ambetter: $349 per month
- Bronze B08L Free Telehealth from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $352 per month
Bronze plans feature the lowest monthly premiums and the highest deductibles, meaning, you’ll pay more out of pocket for medical services.
Cheapest Expanded Bronze Plans in Tennessee
Bronze B14L $70 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth is Tennessee's cheapest Expanded Bronze plan. In this tier, the top three cheapest plans are:
- Bronze B14L $70 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth from Blue Cross Blue Shield: $358 per month
- CMS Standard Expanded Bronze SELECT from Ambetter: $359 per month
- Ascension Personalized Care Balanced Bronze 2 from US Health and Life Insurance Company: $369 per month
Expanded Bronze plans fall between Bronze and Silver in terms of coverage and cost — they frequently cover office visits and one major service before you begin paying your deductible. A copayment is, however, necessary.
Cheapest Catastrophic Plans in Tennessee
Our analysis only looked at one Catastrophic plan in Tennessee, Secure from Oscar, which costs around $256 per month for a 26-year-old.
Catastrophic plans are only available to those 30 years old and younger, as well as those who have experienced a qualifying hardship. These plans feature cheaper premiums and higher deductibles than other plan types. However, you’ll pay the most out of pocket for routine health care services.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee for Those With Low Income
Tennessee residents who meet the requirements and have annual incomes under 250% of the FPL are eligible for cost-sharing reductions. These lessen the burden of medical expenses after a patient has received treatment.
Silver S27L $60 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth from Blue Cross Blue Shield is the cheapest Silver plan for low-income people in Tennessee. Depending on your annual income, you can expect to receive the following MOOP costs:
- Income lower than $20,385 per year (less than 150% of FPL): Silver S27L $60 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth ($625 MOOP)
- Income from $28,386 to $27,180 per year (151% to 200% of FPL): Silver S27L $60 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth ($1,825 MOOP)
- Income from $27,181 to $47,565 per year (201% to 250% of FPL): Silver S27L $60 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth ($5,200 MOOP)
Only Silver plans in Tennessee are eligible for CSRs. The income brackets above are for a single individual — your income brackets may vary depending on the number of people in your household.
Cost-sharing plans don’t reduce your monthly premium. Rather, they lower your out-of-pocket expenses by paying for a higher percentage of your medical expenses. This helps reduce your deductible, MOOP costs and copayments.
The average monthly premium for both standard and low-income insurance is $455 for the Silver S27L $60 PCP Copay + Free Telehealth plan, for instance. However, the average MOOP cost for a standard plan is $6,300, whereas individuals with incomes below 150% of the FPL pay an average MOOP of $625.
The Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee by Plan Type
Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans are commonly obtained in Tennessee. Depending on your situation, you may also be able to obtain other plans, like a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan, Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan or Point of Service (POS) plan.
EPO plans are like HMO plans, but you may not need a referral to see a specialist. PPO plans provide access to a large network but typically cost more. POS plans allow policyholders to access out-of-network providers but for an added cost.
EPO plans are fairly common in Tennessee, but you might find other plan types through the health insurance exchange.
Only services obtained from in-network providers are covered under EPO plans. EPOs often have access to a wider range of doctors than HMO plans and may waive referral requirements for specialist visits.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Tennessee by County
Because not all plans are available throughout Tennessee, the cheapest health insurance plan may vary by county.
For instance, the following are the cheapest Silver plans in Shelby, Tennessee's largest county, and Pickett, Tennessee’s smallest county:
- Shelby County: Silver S28E $30 PCP Copay at Blue of TN + Free Telehealth ($439 per month)
- Pickett County: Clear Silver ($502 per month)
You may find all Silver plans available in your county in the table below.
Health Insurance Costs in Tennessee by Age and Metal Tier
Other elements that impact the price of health insurance include age and metal tier. A 40-year-old in Tennessee can expect to pay the following monthly premium for each respective metal tier:
- Catastrophic: $319
- Bronze: $414
- Expanded Bronze: $453
- Silver: $558
- Gold: $661
The cost of your premium also increases as you age. For a Silver plan, young adults pay $399 per month, middle-aged people pay $558 per month and seniors pay $1,186 per month, on average.
What to Know About Tennessee Health Insurance
MoneyGeek analyzed data on private health insurance policies to find the cheapest plans in Tennessee. Shoppers can browse different plans throughout the open enrollment period and select the one that best suits their needs.
Medicaid and Medicare are low-cost federal health insurance programs that are available to Tennessee residents. Medicaid is available to low-income people, while Medicare is for seniors aged 65 and older, as well as those with qualifying disabilities.
Private Health Insurance in the Tennessee Marketplace
Individuals can choose a private health insurance plan during open enrollment from November 1 to January 15 each year. To receive coverage on January 1, 2024, individuals need to sign up by December 15, 2023.
People who qualify may also purchase cheap private health insurance in Tennessee during a separate, non-open enrollment period known as the special enrollment period.
Getting married, moving, having a child, losing a job and other circumstances may qualify you for special enrollment. To receive coverage, you must apply 60 days before or after your qualifying life event.
What Are Health Insurance Metal Tiers?
Catastrophic, Bronze, Expanded Bronze, Silver and Gold plans are available in Tennessee. Plans with lower metal tier values have higher deductibles but lower monthly premiums, and vice versa.
- Catastrophic: Catastrophic plans are available to individuals 30 years of age and younger, as well as those who qualify for a hardship exemption. These plans have the lowest premiums, highest deductibles and highest MOOP costs, making them perfect for covering catastrophic illnesses.
- Bronze: These plans have low premiums and high deductibles, making them best suited for individuals in good health that infrequently need medical care. They are not appropriate for those with chronic conditions.
- Expanded Bronze: Expanded Bronze plans offer more coverage than standard Bronze plans. These plans have a higher monthly premium than Bronze and Catastrophic plans but a lower monthly premium than Silver and Gold plans.
- Silver: With affordable premiums and MOOP costs, Silver plans are the most popular option. You can lower your copay, deductible and co-insurance if you qualify for a CSR.
- Gold: Gold plans have higher monthly premiums, but they also have lower deductibles, copays and more coverage than less valuable metal tier plans.
Medicaid in Tennessee
Medicaid is a government program that provides low-cost or free medical care for qualifying individuals. Medicaid eligibility in Tennessee is based on a number of variables, including income. People with disabilities, pregnant women and children from low-income households are generally eligible.
Medicare in Tennessee
Medicare, a federal health care program, is significantly less expensive than private insurance. To qualify, applicants must be at least 65 years of age or have a qualifying illness or disability.
Medicare is divided into three components, A, B and D, each of which covers a specific set of services:
- Part A, equivalent to hospital insurance, includes inpatient care, home care, hospice care, and nursing facilities staffed by professional nurses.
- Part B serves as health insurance, paying for doctor visits, outpatient care and preventative services.
- Part D covers prescription drugs and vaccinations.
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
Tennessee Health Insurance Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions regarding the health insurance options in Tennessee, MoneyGeek’s answers to some of the most frequently asked questions can help.
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.