Coordinated Care Corporation offers Washington state’s cheapest Bronze, Silver and Gold HMO plans.
Several health insurance plans are available in Washington, but HMO plans are the baseline plan type. Each metal tier plan type has its own set of health plans with different monthly premiums, maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) costs and deductibles. Note that expenses can vary depending on your age, income and coverage level.
If you are looking to balance monthly premiums with quality claims and coverage, MoneyGeek analyzed the best health insurance in Washington.
Most Affordable Health Insurance in Washington
Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington by Metal Tier
The Ambetter Cascade Select Silver plan from Coordinated Care Corporation is Washington’s cheapest Silver health insurance plan. More valuable metal tiers, such as Gold and Platinum, can offer more coverage, but these are also usually more expensive.
These are the most affordable health insurance by metal tier:
- Catastrophic: Kaiser Basics Plus Catastrophic Plan ($255 per month for a 26-year-old)
- Bronze: Coordinated Care Corporation Ambetter Cascade Select Bronze ($261 per month)
- Silver: Coordinated Care Corporation Ambetter Cascade Select Silver ($357 per month)
- Gold: Coordinated Care Corporation Ambetter Essential Care 1 ($271 per month)
In this case, the Gold-tier plan available is cheaper than the Silver. More valuable metal tiers usually have higher monthly premiums but lower maximum out-of-pocket costs, which can help you save in the long run if you frequently need medical care.
Health insurance plans are categorized into different metal tiers. The metal tier you choose will determine your monthly rates and the coverage you’ll receive. More valuable metal tiers like Platinum and Gold plans are typically more expensive but have lower out-of-pocket costs, making these best suited for people who require frequent medical care. Less valuable metal plans like Bronze are best suited for young and healthy individuals who don’t foresee regular medical expenses.
We find that Silver plans offer the best balance between monthly premiums and MOOP costs and are a safe middle-of-the-road option, especially if you’re unsure which plan to purchase. Another advantage of getting a Silver plan is that people with low income may qualify for lower deductibles.
Cheapest Silver Plans in Washington
The cheapest Silver plan in Washington is the Ambetter Cascade Select Silver from Coordinated Care Corporation, averaging $357 per month. The most affordable Silver plans are as follows:
- Ambetter Cascade Select Silver from Coordinated Care Corporation: $357 per month
- Ambetter Balanced Care 4 from Coordinated Care Corporation: $384 per month
- Ambetter Cascade Silver from Coordinated Care Corporation: $405 per month
Most insurance buyers find that Silver plans offer adequate coverage in exchange for affordable premiums and low MOOP expenses. Silver plans also provide low-income individuals with the opportunity for cost-sharing reductions. But if you’re looking for the cheapest monthly premium, Silver plans are usually more expensive than Bronze plans.
HMO plans are the most accessible for residents of Washington. This is why the recommendations in this section focus on HMOs.
Cheapest Gold Plans in Washington
The Ambetter Essential Care 1 from Coordinated Care Corporation is the cheapest Gold plan in Washington at a monthly average of $271. The top three most affordable gold plans are:
- Ambetter Essential Care 1 from Coordinated Care Corporation: $271 per month
- Ambetter Clear Gold from Coordinated Care Corporation: $381 per month
- Ambetter Cascade Select Gold from Coordinated Care Corporation: $382 per month
Gold plans can be relatively expensive compared to lower metal tier plans. The upside is that these tend to have lower maximum out-of-pocket costs, so you’ll save a lot on your health care expenses when you access medical services. Consider purchasing this type of health plan if you expect to use your health insurance coverage frequently and are willing to spend extra cash on your monthly premiums.
Cheapest Bronze Plans in Washington
The Ambetter Cascade Select Bronze from Coordinated Care Corporation is the cheapest Bronze plan in Washington, costing an average of $291 per month. The following are the most affordable Bronze plans in the state:
- Ambetter Cascade Select Bronze from Coordinated Care Corporation: $261 per month
- Ambetter Essential Care 1 from Coordinated Care Corporation: $286 per month
- Ambetter Cascade Bronze from Coordinated Care Corporation: $296 per month
Bronze plans have some of the lowest monthly premiums that you’ll find in the marketplace. However, be aware that the cheap rates come with high maximum out-of-pocket costs. If you purchase this type of plan, you’ll have to spend a lot of money on your health care needs before your insurance provider starts paying its share.
Cheapest Catastrophic Plans in Washington
The Basics Plus Catastrophic Plan from Kaiser Permanente is the only Catastrophic plan in Washington, at an average premium of $255 per month for a 26-year-old.
- Basics Plus Catastrophic Plan from Kaiser Permanente: $255 per month
Catastrophic plans are typically the cheapest marketplace plans. But as the name implies, these are only meant to protect you from worst-case scenarios, such as a serious injury or illness. Catastrophic plans tend to have very high MOOP costs, so you’ll pay for most of your routine medical expenses before your deductible starts to pay. Note that you must be under 30 years old or have an affordability or hardship exemption to be eligible.
You may be eligible for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) on Silver health care plans if you qualify for premium tax credits. Although CSRs won’t lower your premiums, they can help reduce your plan’s deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and copayments.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington by Plan Type
Washington’s most common plan type is a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan. However, the health insurance exchange offers other plan types, such as Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) and Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans. These are the cheapest Silver plans offered from these plan types:
- EPO: Community Health Plan of Washington Cascade Select Silver from CHPW ($396 per month)
- PPO: Navigator Silver 5000 from PacificSource Health Plans ($498 per month)
Compared to HMO plans, EPO and PPO plans generally offer greater flexibility but can be more expensive. EPO and PPO plans also won’t require a referral before seeing a specialist. Remember to weigh your needs and preferences against how much you are willing to spend to select the best plan for you.
You can choose from these three types of health insurance plans in Washington:
- HMO plans are the most common and are usually the cheapest option. But these offer the least flexibility, so you’ll have to stay within your insurance provider’s network of physicians and hospitals to have your services covered. You’ll also need a referral before seeing a specialist.
- EPO plans also require you to stay within a network of providers, except in an emergency. Unlike HMOs, these plans will not usually require you to present a referral to see a specialist.
- PPO plans offer greater flexibility since these tend to have a wider network of physicians and medical facilities. You also won’t need a referral to see a specialist. However, these plans are typically more expensive.
It’s worth weighing your options to decide what plan type best suits your needs and preferences.
Cheapest Health Insurance in Washington by County
Location is a crucial factor when selecting health insurance. Not all health insurance plans are available in all parts of Washington. Plan rates may also vary between different counties. Check the table below for the available Silver plans in each Washington county and their average premium.
Health Insurance Costs in Washington by Age and Metal Tier
Your health insurance premium largely depends on your plan’s metal tier. For example, these are the average monthly rates for each metal tier for a 40-year-old in Washington:
- Catastrophic: $255 per month (for a 26-year-old)
- Bronze: $362 per month
- Silver: $480 per month
- Gold: $523 per month
From the rates above, you’ll notice that premiums get more expensive as you move from less valuable to more valuable metal tiers. Remember that there’s usually a trade-off between monthly premiums and MOOP costs. For example, Gold plans are significantly more expensive than Bronze plans but have much lower MOOP costs. The best metal tier for you will depend on your coverage needs and preferences.
It’s important to consider that insurance premiums increase as you age. A Silver plan only costs around $343 per month for an 18-year-old, but this rate goes up to an average of $1,019 per month for seniors.
What to Know About Washington Health Insurance
MoneyGeek hand-collected data from different private health insurance providers and compared their rates to find Washington’s most affordable health insurance plans. The marketplace offers various policies that can accommodate individuals with varying coverage needs. You can purchase these plans during the open enrollment period.
Low-income individuals may also be eligible for Medicaid, while seniors and people with disabilities may qualify for Medicare. These programs are cheaper than marketplace plans if you qualify.
Private Health Insurance in the Washington Marketplace
You can purchase a private health insurance plan in Washington during open enrollment. This period starts on November 1, but we recommend signing up for a plan before December 15 to ensure your health insurance coverage begins on January 1. Signing up early also means you have time to modify your plan if necessary. Note that the last day for open enrollment is January 15.
If you miss purchasing a health plan during open enrollment, you may still be eligible to buy a marketplace plan in a special enrollment period. You’ll qualify if you’ve experienced a major qualifying life event, like getting married or having a baby.
Medicaid in Washington
Medicaid is a government-sponsored program that provides affordable health insurance. This option is worth considering if you cannot afford marketplace plans. Your family income must be less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to qualify. Being a Medicaid expansion state, Washington offers free Medicaid for its residents.
Medicare in Washington
Medicare is another federal program that aims to provide affordable health care to Americans. To qualify, you must be over 65 or have a qualifying disability or sickness. While Medicaid is usually free, Medicare requires you to pay for certain services. Medicare has three components, each covering specific expenses:
- Part A (Hospital Insurance): Covers hospital stays, nursing care, hospice care and some home-based care.
- Part B (Medical Insurance): Covers outpatient care, physician visits, preventive care and medical supplies.
- Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage): Covers prescription drugs and required vaccinations.
Washington Health Insurance Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re like most insurance shoppers, you’re likely to have several questions about plan cost and availability. Here are MoneyGeek’s answers to the most common questions about health insurance plans in Washington to help you with your purchase.
About Mark Fitzpatrick