Where to Find Low-Cost Health Insurance

If employer-sponsored health insurance isn’t an option, there are other places to find affordable health insurance, like Marketplace exchange plans, short-term health insurance policies or Medicaid. MoneyGeek analyzed publicly available data for various backgrounds and locations to help you figure out where to buy affordable health insurance.

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure
Last Updated: 9/8/2022
3 Expert Contributions
Written By     |  

The best and worst states for health care across the U.S. vary widely when it comes to health insurance costs. Fortunately, there are many ways to get cheap health insurance plans, regardless of where you live. Medicaid is a government-funded program created for low-income individuals and families. Medicaid offers free or low-cost health insurance coverage, though eligibility requirements vary by state. Seniors can get the cheapest health insurance through a different government program called Medicare, which provides plans like Medicare Advantage that covers most medical expenses.

If you aren't eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, the best way to find affordable health insurance is through your state's Health Insurance Marketplace. On average, these plans cost $477 per month. Rates vary widely depending on your location and premium tax credit eligibility.

Where to Get Coverage

syringe
Medicaid
By far the most affordable option for people who qualify.
smallBusiness
Marketplaces
Obtain coverage from the national or state insurance Marketplace.
other
Other Options
Potential alternatives include Medicare, short-term health insurance and local Farm Bureau plans.

Medicaid Is the Cheapest Option for Low-Income Individuals & Families

As part of the Medicaid expansion, 38 states allow low-income individuals and families to be eligible for Medicaid based on income alone. For the rest of the states, you can’t qualify on just your income level. The income cut-off is usually 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), so a single person must make $17,774 or less to qualify.

The bigger the household, the higher the income cut-off limit. In the 12 states that do not offer income-only Medicaid qualification, you must be low-income and meet another eligibility requirement, including child guardianship or being over the age of 65.

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Even though Medicaid benefits vary by state, emergency care, family planning, child healthcare and other select coverages are still free. Depending on your state and income levels, you may have copays for inpatient hospital care, physician visits and prescription drugs.

Do You Qualify for Medicaid Based on Your Income Levels?

In 38 states, whether you qualify for Medicaid is based solely on your income levels as a required part of Medicaid eligibility expansion. The income level differs depending on the size of your household but is the same in 36 of the 38 states. Qualification numbers for Alaska and Hawaii are different. Take a look at the table below to find the income level for your state and find out if you qualify for Medicaid.

State and Household Size Determine The Medicaid Cut-off

Scroll for more

swipe icon
  • Household Size
    Income-Level Cut-off
    Alaska Cut-off
    Hawaii Cut-Off
  • 1
    $17,774
    $22,204
    $20,452
  • 2
    $24,040
    $30,043
    $27,655
  • 3
    $30,305
    $37,881
    $34,859
  • 4
    $36,570
    $45,719
    $42,062
  • 5
    $42,835
    $53,558
    $49,266
  • 6
    $49,100
    $61,396
    $56,470
  • 7
    $55,366
    $69,235
    $63,673
  • 8
    $61,631
    $77,073
    $70,877

The Cheapest Marketplace Health Insurance By State

When the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was passed, it offered a new way for individuals and families to get affordable health insurance. Each state now has its own Health Insurance Marketplace exchange for private insurance. Coverage offerings vary by state. These health insurance plans are the best option for those who don’t have health insurance through work and don’t meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid or Medicare.

You can get the cheapest health insurance plans by qualifying for a premium tax credit. Even if your income is higher than the federal poverty limit, you can still be eligible. MoneyGeek gathered and analyzed the data to help you find the cheapest health insurance company and Silver plan in your state. Silver plans offer a middle-of-the-road policy, which balances moderate deductibles and costs for healthcare.

Click on your state below to find cheap health insurance plans in your area. Continue reading to learn more about Bronze and Gold plans.

Scroll for more

swipe icon
  • State
    Average Cost of Silver Plan
    Cheapest Company
    Cheapest Plan
    Price for Cheapest Plan
  • $680
    Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska
    Premera Blue Cross Preferred Silver 3000 HSA
    $675
  • $449
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
    Blue HSA Silver for Business
    $292
  • $418
    Ambetter from Arkansas Health & Wellness
    Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2021)
    $387
  • $504
    Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
    Blue AdvanceHealth Silver - PimaFocus Network
    $330
  • $545
    Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware
    Health Savings Embedded Blue EPO Silver 3450 HSA
    $522
  • $571
    Bright Health
    Super Silver 50 + Dental
    $436
  • $525
    Kaiser Permanente
    KP Silver HDHP 5000/20/S8
    $391
  • $482
    Kaiser Permanente
    KP HI Silver 4000/45
    $467
  • $528
    Oscar Insurance Company
    Oscar Silver Saver
    $485
  • $483
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
    Blue FocusCare Silver? 210
    $357
  • $453
    CareSource
    CareSource Marketplace Low Premium Silver
    $391
  • $534
    Oscar Insurance Company
    Oscar Silver Saver 2
    $459
  • $517
    Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
    Anthem Silver Pathway X Transition HMO 4650 for HSA
    $454
  • $669
    CHRISTUS Health Plan
    CHP LA Basic Silver - Two Free PCP Visits
    $407
  • $489
    Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
    Maine's Choice Plus HMO Silver 6500
    $414
  • $422
    Total Health Care USA, Inc.
    Totally You - Value
    $305
  • $569
    WellFirst Health
    WellFirst Silver HSA-E 4500X
    $445
  • $498
    Molina Healthcare
    Constant Care Silver 2
    $463
  • $439
    Mountain Health CO-OP
    Co-op Plus Silver
    $355
  • $566
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC
    Blue Local Silver 6300 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)
    $428
  • $495
    Medica
    Altru Prime by Medica Silver Copay
    $408
  • $698
    Medica
    Medica with CHI Health Silver Copay
    $558
  • $407
    Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
    Anthem Silver Pathway X HMO 5000 30 7000 w HSA
    $313
  • $391
    Molina Healthcare
    Constant Care Silver 1
    $343
  • $471
    Ambetter from Buckeye Health
    Ambetter Balanced Care 29 (2021)
    $355
  • $572
    Bright Health
    Silver 5000
    $476
  • $486
    Kaiser Permanente
    KP OR Silver 4500/40
    $410
  • $520
    BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
    BlueExclusive Cooper Silver 2
    $456
  • $614
    Sanford Health Plan
    Sanford TRUE $4,750
    $473
  • $515
    Cigna Healthcare
    Cigna Connect 7300
    $446
  • $495
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
    MyBlue Health Silver? 405
    $390
  • $536
    SelectHealth
    Value Benchmark Silver 6500 - no deductible for office visits
    $459
  • $490
    Kaiser Permanente
    KP VA Silver 4000/0%/HSA/Vision
    $321
  • $521
    Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative
    Envision EPO - Silver 6000/80
    $366
  • $695
    CareSource
    CareSource Marketplace Low Premium Silver
    $632
  • $721
    Mountain Health CO-OP
    High Plains Silver
    $545
  • $508
    L.A Care Health Plan
    Silver 70 HMO
    $338
  • $399
    Bright Health
    Silver 5000 Rx Copay
    $335
  • $538
    ConnectiCare Benefits, Inc.
    Choice Silver Standard POS
    $518
  • Washington D.C.
    $419
    Kaiser Permanente
    KP DC Silver 3200/30%/HSA/Vision
    $384
  • $544
    Mountain Health CO-OP
    Access Silver
    $487
  • $533
    BMC HealthNet Plan
    Standard Silver: BMC HealthNet Plan Silver A II
    $367
  • $380
    Kaiser Permanente
    KP MD Silver 3200/20%/HSA/Vision
    $339
  • $365
    UCare Minnesota
    UCare M Health Fairview Silver HSA
    $265
  • $551
    AmeriHealth Ins Company of NJ
    IHC Select Silver EPO HSA AmeriHealth Hospital Advantage $50/$75
    $377
  • $531
    SelectHealth, Inc.
    SelectHealth Value Silver 6500 - no deductible for office visits
    $374
  • $710
    BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York
    IND Destination 65, Silver, NS, INN, Blue Marketplace, Dep25
    $491
  • $510
    Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
    Together Blue EPO Silver 3450 HSA
    $343
  • $422
    NHPRI
    Neighborhood COMMUNITY
    $328
  • $706
    MVP Health Care
    MVP VT Plus Silver 1
    $666
  • $433
    Coordinated Care
    Ambetter Balanced Care 1 (2021)
    $377

Bronze, Silver and Gold Plans: Understanding Metal Tiers

The different metal tiers in the Health Insurance Marketplace determine how health care costs are split between you and the insurance company. The more responsibility put on the insurance company, the higher your the cost of your premiums will be.

  • Bronze: With the Bronze plan, you take on the most expenses, around 40%. This policy has low monthly premiums averaging $383 nationally but could be costly if you have high medical costs. Our data shows an average annual deductible of $6,791, but maximum out-of-pocket costs of $8,137 per year. A Bronze plan is best suited for individuals who can pay for their own routine care but want coverage for serious illnesses or injuries.
  • Silver: Expect to pay around 30% of your medical costs if you choose a Silver plan. Your premium will be higher than a Bronze plan with a national average of $503 monthly, but this plan has a lower annual deductible. We found the average annual deductible in a Silver plan is $4,236, while the average out-of-pocket maximum is $7,954. With the Silver plan, you may qualify for extra savings called cost-sharing reductions, which can lower your copays, co-insurance and deductibles. If you qualify, you might save thousands with a Silver plan versus a Bronze plan.
  • Gold: Individuals and families with a Gold plan pay the highest premiums, an average of $562 monthly. But, you also pay fewer insurance costs, around 20%. The Gold plan has a low deductible and out-of-pocket maximum, averaging $1,500 and $6,650 per year, respectively. If you expect high medical bills and can afford the monthly premium, the higher Gold plan premium may be worth it to get most of the costs covered by the insurance company.

Some states also have a policy with a very high deductible called a Catastrophic health insurance plan. You can also get a Platinum plan in some states, which offers the lowest deductible but the highest monthly premium. A Catastrophic plan is best for the young and very healthy, while the Platinum plan is for those who expect very high medical bills.

What Marketplace Health Insurance Always Covers

When you buy health insurance on the Marketplace, insurance companies are required to cover these health benefits:

tip icon
10 ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS
  • Ambulatory patient services
  • Chronic disease management, preventive and wellness services
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Lab services
  • Mental health and substance abuse disorder services
  • Pediatric health services, including dental and vision
  • Pregnancy, maternity and newborn health care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices

Other health services, like medical management programs for diabetes and weight management, may also be covered but vary by plan. For instance, not all Marketplace health insurance plans offer dental and vision coverage for adults.

Cheapest Health Insurance Alternatives

If you can’t get cheap health insurance plans through your job, Medicaid or your state’s Marketplace, you still have options. You may find low-cost coverage through Medicare, non-compliant Affordable Care Act plans, short-term health insurance, a local healthcare sharing ministry or Farm Bureau health plans.

Medicare

Permanent residents and U.S. citizens 65 and older can get Medicare. You can also qualify before age 65 by meeting certain criteria; for example, if you are a disabled government employee, have permanent kidney failure or are employed with a railroad company, you may qualify. There are four parts to Medicare. The first two are offered through the government, while the last two are available through private insurance companies:

1

Part A

Pays for inpatient hospital care, some home health care, hospice care and limited time in a skilled nursing facility after a hospital stay.

2

Part B

Medical insurance that pays for doctors and health care provider services, home health care, outpatient care, durable medical equipment and certain preventive services.

3

Part C

Now called the Medicare Advantage Plan, Part C combines all benefits and services under Parts A and B in one plan.

4

Part D

Provides coverage for prescription drugs.

Short-Term Health Insurance

Short-term health insurance plans offer up to a year of coverage but aren’t as comprehensive as Marketplace plans. These plans provide coverage for doctor visits, urgent care, emergency care and preventive care and may offer some prescription drug coverage. They are designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage and can be canceled anytime without penalty.

Short-term health insurance comes with high deductibles, no pre-existing condition coverage and little government oversight as coverage is not standardized or mandated. Because of these qualities, plan offerings, coverage limits, exclusions and costs vary widely by the insurance carrier. You may also have to complete a medical questionnaire, which will help the insurance provider determine if you are approved or denied coverage.

Farm Bureau Health Insurance

If you’re healthy and don’t qualify for Marketplace subsidies, Farm Bureau plans may be cheaper than other alternatives. Like short-term health plans, Farm Bureau health insurance may not cover pre-existing conditions or could have a waiting period before these conditions are covered. Your medical history is a factor when you apply, and could cause you to be denied coverage.

Though Farm Bureau plans can be relatively affordable, these cheap health insurance plans are not compliant with the Affordable Care Act regulation and don’t have to cover the 10 essential health benefits. Coverage varies by state, but you can apply year-round if you’re a Farm Bureau member, which comes with a separate annual membership cost.

Expert Advice: Finding Affordable Health Insurance

  1. What are the pros and cons of buying health insurance plans with cheaper premiums?
  2. If I’m not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, what other options are there for cheap health insurance coverage?
  3. Can I still get quality coverage if I buy a cheap health insurance plan?
Dr. Brian J Adams
Dr. Brian J Adams

Associate Dean of Graduate Business Programs and Professor of Finance at the University of Portland's Pamplin School of Business

Jonathan Handy
Jonathan Handy

Assistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University

Amit Sinha
Amit Sinha

Professor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University

Dr. Andrew Burnstine
Dr. Andrew Burnstine

Associate Professor of Marketing at Lynn University

Matt Hylland
Matt Hylland

Financial Planner at Arnold & Mote Wealth Management

Marta Podemska-Mikluch
Marta Podemska-Mikluch

Schnell Family Chair in Econ-Capital Systems and Associate Professor in Economics and Management and Public Health at Gustavus Adolphus College

Joanna Short
Joanna Short

Associate Professor of Economics at Augustana College

Dr. Greg Page
Dr. Greg Page

Assistant Professor of the Practice of Health Care Management at the Phillips School of Business at High Point University

Dr. Zhigang Feng
Dr. Zhigang Feng

Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, University at Nebraska at Omaha

Jeffrey DeSimone
Jeffrey DeSimone

Visiting Associate Professor of Economics at Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa

Jennifer Juguilon-Hottle, MBA
Jennifer Juguilon-Hottle, MBA

Adjunct Faculty Member at Baldwin Wallace University

Geoffrey Hill
Geoffrey Hill

CEO & Principal Advisor at Raisonné & Hammer Price Corporation

Meghan Hope
Meghan Hope

Faculty, BS in Health Studies Program at Walden University

David Sacco
David Sacco

Practitioner in Residence at the University of New Haven

Henrique Veras
Henrique Veras

Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Centre College

Gal Wettstein
Gal Wettstein

Senior Research Economist at Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Dr. Stephen Willand
Dr. Stephen Willand

Adjunct Professor at the School of Business, Quinsigamond Community College

Deborah M Mullen, PhD.
Deborah M Mullen, PhD.

Greg Vital - Franklin Farrow Associate Professor in Healthcare Administration at the University of Tennessee

Lacey Loomer, PhD, MSPH
Lacey Loomer, PhD, MSPH

Assistant Professor of Health Care Management at the University of Minnesota Duluth

Patricia Born
Patricia Born

Professor at Florida State University

Dr. Kara Grant
Dr. Kara Grant

Assistant Professor of Economics at Missouri Western State University

J. Tim Query, Ph.D., C.P.A., A.R.M.
J. Tim Query, Ph.D., C.P.A., A.R.M.

Professor at the New Mexico State University, College of Business

Haizhen Lin
Haizhen Lin

Associate Professor of Business Economics at Indiana University

Jeff Bolles, Ph.D.
Jeff Bolles, Ph.D.

Interim MBA Director at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Jonathan Gruber
Jonathan Gruber

Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Sherif A. Ebrahim
Dr. Sherif A. Ebrahim

Professor at Tulane University and Chairman at SMG Capital

Dr. Brandon Di Paolo Harrison
Dr. Brandon Di Paolo Harrison

Assistant Professor of Accounting at Austin Peay State University

Jeanne M. Boeh
Jeanne M. Boeh

Professor of Economics at Augsburg University

Matt Rutledge
Matt Rutledge

Associate Professor of the Practice of Economics and Research Fellow at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Lanlan (Lacey) Chu
Lanlan (Lacey) Chu

Assistant Professor of Economics at St. Catherine University

Makayla Lavender, Ph.D.
Makayla Lavender, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Li Zhang
Li Zhang

Professor at St. Cloud State University

Kamal Gursahani
Kamal Gursahani

Vice Chair for Education; Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine

Teresa Serratt
Teresa Serratt

DNP Program Director and Associate Professor at Boise State University School of Nursing

Mengying He
Mengying He

Assistant Professor of Healthcare Management at California State University, Los Angeles

Dr. Pallavi Panda, Ph.D.
Dr. Pallavi Panda, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Economics in the School of Business at SUNY Geneseo

About the Author


expert-profile

Mandy Sleight is a professional freelance writer and licensed insurance agent. She has her property, casualty, life, and health licenses and has been working in the industry since 2005. Mandy has worked for well-known insurance companies like State Farm and Nationwide Insurance, and most recently as the Operations Coordinator for a start-up employee benefits company.

Mandy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Baltimore and her Master in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. She uses her vast knowledge of the insurance industry and personal finance combined with her writing background to create easy-to-understand and engaging content to help readers make smarter choices with their budget and finances.


sources