Where to Find Low-Cost Health Insurance in 2024


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ByMandy Sleight
Edited byAmy Wilder
Contributions by6+ experts
ByMandy Sleight
Edited byAmy Wilder
Contributions by6+ experts

Updated: May 22, 2024

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

When buying affordable health insurance, you can either look for low out-of-pocket maximums or low premiums. You usually can’t get both unless you’re shopping for low-income health plans.

If you’re healthy and don’t anticipate a lot of care, a plan belonging to a lower metal tier (such as Catastrophic or Bronze) may be the cheapest option. But if you expect to need much care, consider purchasing a plan with higher premiums but low maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) costs.

MoneyGeek found the cheapest health insurance companies based on metal tiers, location and other factors. For our top picks, we defined “cheapest” by monthly premiums unless otherwise stated.

MoneyGeek accessed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) public use files which includes data from the 34 states that use the federal marketplace, Healthcare.gov.

Cheapest Health Insurance by Metal Level

Our study analyzed providers offering plans on the federal marketplace, which houses most state-specific health insurance platforms. We found that the cheapest health insurance companies across all metal levels are, on average:

  • Oscar: $470 per month
  • Ambetter: $490 per month
  • Cigna: $516 per month

Note that the cheapest is based on the average across metal levels of companies available in at least six states.

Of the providers that are limited to fewer than six states, the least expensive are:

  • Ascension Care: $404 per month
  • Kaiser Permanente: $435 per month
  • Friday Health Plans: $455 per month

Cheap is often relative to the consumer. While these companies offer affordable plans with low monthly premiums, they often have high out-of-pocket maximums. If you anticipate needing much care, buying a plan in a higher metal level may make more sense. You may have higher premiums, but the tradeoff is lower MOOP costs.

The premiums shown above represent the average cost for a plan paid per month. Your actual rate may vary depending on your income, metal tier and location.

Cheapest Health Insurance Across Metal Levels
Data filtered by:Results filtered by:
Age:
Age:40
OscarMetal TierCatastrophicMonthly Cost$294Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,100
OscarMetal TierBronzeMonthly Cost$369Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,064
AetnaMetal TierExpanded BronzeMonthly Cost$377Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,017
AetnaMetal TierSilverMonthly Cost$501Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,750
AmbetterMetal TierGoldMonthly Cost$528Maximum Out-of-Pocket$7,512
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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN METAL TIERS?

Metal tiers are groupings of plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The more valuable the metal is, the more the plan tends to cost in premiums. Silver plans provide balance and the opportunity to lower your deductibles if you have limited income.

  • Platinum: Although platinum plans have the highest premiums, expect to pay only 10% of health care costs, while insurance covers 90%.
  • Gold: You pay 20% of health care costs, while insurance covers 80%.
  • Silver: You pay 30% of health care costs, while insurance covers 70%.
  • Bronze: Bronze plans may have the cheapest premiums, but you take on 40% of health care costs, while insurance covers 60%.

Companies With the Cheapest Silver Health Insurance

Aetna is the most affordable health insurance company for Silver plans, with an average premium of $499 per month. The top three cheapest options for this metal tier are:

  • Aetna: $499 per month
  • Ambetter: $505 per month
  • Oscar: $512 per month

Make sure to do your due diligence and find out if these providers have poor reviews, smaller networks or limited geographic availability before purchasing a health plan.

Companies With the Cheapest Silver Health Plans
Data filtered by:Results filtered by:
Age:
Age:40
AetnaMonthly Cost$501Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,750
AmbetterMonthly Cost$505Maximum Out-of-Pocket$7,655
OscarMonthly Cost$513Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,821
CignaMonthly Cost$525Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,985
MolinaMonthly Cost$540Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,035
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MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

The best health insurance should meet your specific needs in terms of cost, provider flexibility or coverage. To make your choice easier, plans are categorized into metal tiers and types (PPO, HMO, etc.). Silver plans are usually popular because they offer a middle-of-the-road cost structure and a robust network.

Cheapest Bronze Health Insurance Providers

If you’re looking for cheaper premiums than Silver plans offer, Bronze is a lower-cost option. The most affordable health insurance providers for Bronze plans are:

  • Oscar: $369 per month
  • Ambetter: $388 per month
  • Medica: $414 per month

Bronze plans offer the lowest monthly premium outside of Catastrophic plans, which come with restrictions. The tradeoff with lower-cost Bronze premiums is higher out-of-pocket costs. Thus, this metal tier is preferable for those who don’t often need medical attention.

Cheapest Bronze Health Insurance Providers
Data filtered by:Results filtered by:
Age:
Age:40
OscarMonthly Cost$369Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,064
AmbetterMonthly Cost$388Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,708
MedicaMonthly Cost$414Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,091
Blue Cross Blue ShieldMonthly Cost$422Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,096
CareSourceMonthly Cost$422Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,100

A Bronze plan may be ideal if you can afford routine care services but want coverage for serious illnesses or injuries. However, if you need a little more than Bronze offers but don’t necessarily want to jump to the Silver tier, Expanded Bronze is an option worth considering.

Cheapest Expanded Bronze Health Insurance Providers
Data filtered by:Results filtered by:
Age:
Age:40
AetnaMonthly Cost$377Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,017
OscarMonthly Cost$417Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,057
United HealthcareMonthly Cost$433Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,058
CareSourceMonthly Cost$434Maximum Out-of-Pocket$9,100
AmbetterMonthly Cost$441Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,745
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BRONZE PLANS VS. EXTENDED BRONZE PLANS

Compared with Bronze, Expanded Bronze has higher actuarial values, ranging between 62% and 65%, meaning Expanded Bronze plans cover more health care costs. They also cover at least one major service before the deductible is met.

According to our analysis, the cheapest health insurance providers for Expanded Bronze plans are:

  • Aetna: $377 per month
  • Oscar: $417 per month
  • CareSource: $434 per month

Providers are not required to offer Expanded Bronze plans, so ensure this option is available when shopping for health insurance.

Cheapest Health Insurance by State

The costs and coverage of health insurance vary greatly between states and by income. The least expensive states for health insurance based on average costs across all plans are:

  • New Hampshire: Anthem Silver Pathway X Enhanced HMO 5800/40% Standard ($317 per month)
  • Michigan: Ascension Personalized Care Low Premium Silver ($330 per month)
  • Virginia: Innovation Health - Aetna Silver S ($343 per month)

The premiums shown above are just averages. Your actual rate may differ based on various individual factors.

Cheapest Health Insurance by State
Data filtered by:Results filtered by:
Age:
Age:40
AKCompanyModa Assurance CompanyPlanModa Pioneer Alaska Standard SilverMonthly Cost$739Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,900
ALCompanyBlue Cross Blue ShieldPlanBlue Secure Silver for BusinessMonthly Cost$377Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,550
ARCompanyAmbetterPlanCMS Standard SilverMonthly Cost$411Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,900
AZCompanyHealth NetPlanClear SELECT Silver with Select ProvidersMonthly Cost$361Maximum Out-of-Pocket$5,400
DECompanyAetnaPlanSilver S: Aetna network of doctors & hospitals + $0 MinuteClinic + $0 Telehealth 24/7Monthly Cost$542Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,900
FLCompanyHealth First - AdventHealthPlanSilver Value 1815 Monthly Cost$457Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,700
GACompanyFriday Health Plans of Georgia IncPlanFriday Standard SilverMonthly Cost$377Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,900
HICompanyKaiser PermanentePlanKP HI Standard Silver 5800/40Monthly Cost$430Maximum Out-of-Pocket$8,900

Cheapest Cities for Health Insurance by City

Health insurance costs vary not only by state but also by city. More specifically, health insurance options and costs vary by rating areas within the state. Some examples of the cheap health insurance rates for a 40-year-old shopping for a Silver plan can be found in the following cities:

Cheapest Health Insurance by Rate
City
Provider
Monthly Premium

Minneapolis

UCare Minnesota

$265

Flint

Ambetter from Meridian

$292

Detroit

Total Health Care USA, Inc.

$305

Albuquerque

Molina Healthcare

$313

Arlington

Kaiser Permanente

$321

Denver

Bright Health

$330

Baltimore

Kaiser Permanente

$339

San Diego

Molina Healthcare

$343

Additional Low-Cost Health Insurance Options

If you don’t qualify for low-cost plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace, consider these cheap alternatives:

1
Medicaid for Low- to No-Cost Health Insurance

Medicaid provides low- to no-cost health insurance to qualified individuals. Medicaid eligibility is based on income and family size, which vary across states. In addition to people with limited income or resources, those who are pregnant or have a disability may also be eligible for this government-funded health insurance program.

2
Medicare Health Insurance for Those 65 and Older

Medicare is another government-funded health program that subsidizes medical expenses for certain individuals. You may qualify for Medicare if you are 65 and older or have a disability.

You can get Medicare hospital and prescription coverage through Original Medicare with Medicare Supplement plans or Medicare Advantage. For the latter, we gathered the best Medicare Advantage plans based on various factors.

3
Short-Term Health Insurance

Short-term health insurance is designed to bridge temporary gaps in your medical coverage. Because it is not Affordable Care Act-compliant, these plans don’t include essential health benefits or cover pre-existing conditions. They’re typically not recommended for those with extensive health needs or those who need care for more than a few months.

Browse through the best short-term health insurance companies based on specific circumstances.

4
Community Health Centers

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) may save uninsured individuals or those with little to no income from visiting ERs and other expensive forms of health care. This is because FQHCs provide preventative services on a sliding fee scale based on your ability to pay.

How to Find Cheap Health Insurance

Because most providers only offer health insurance plans in certain states, your options largely depend on where you live. You can narrow down your options based on your specific needs.

If affordability is your focus, choosing a Bronze HMO may be your cheapest option. However, you may find a better balance between health care coverage and costs with either a low-income plan (if you qualify) or a subsidized Silver HMO or PPO.

Keep in mind that you can also be added to someone else’s plan, including:

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?
Allie Peckham, MSW, Ph.D.
Allie Peckham, MSW, Ph.D.Assistant Professor at Arizona State University
Elena Marks
Elena MarksPresident and CEO at Episcopal Health Foundation and Nonresident Fellow in Health Policy at Rice University's Baker Institute
Patrick Bernet
Patrick BernetAssociate Professor at Florida Atlantic University
Deborah Farringer
Deborah FarringerAssociate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Law at Belmont University
Taylor Hough, PhD, MHA
Taylor Hough, PhD, MHADirector of Clinical Education and Associate Professor at Touro University Nevada
Glenn Melnick, Ph.D.
Glenn Melnick, Ph.D.Professor at University of Southern California
Siwei Gao, Ph.D.
Siwei Gao, Ph.D.Thomas and Rebecca Coffey Professor of Insurance Studies at Eastern Kentucky University
Elaine Luther, D.Sc.
Elaine Luther, D.Sc.Business Management Professor at Point Park University
Jack Riashi, Jr., CFP®
Jack Riashi, Jr., CFP®Financial Advisor at Bloom Advisors
Bob G. Wood, Ph.D.
Bob G. Wood, Ph.D.Professor of Finance at University of South Alabama
Sean J. Britton, MPA, NRP
Sean J. Britton, MPA, NRPPrincipal and Financial Planner at STAT Financial Health
William C. Binning, Ph.D.
William C. Binning, Ph.D.Faculty Emeritus at Youngstown State University
James R. Langabeer, Ph.D.
James R. Langabeer, Ph.D.Professor of Emergency Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Chunhuei Chi, Sc.D., MPH
Chunhuei Chi, Sc.D., MPHProfessor of Health Management and Policy, Professor in Global Health at Oregon State University
Aislinn Conrad, Ph.D.
Aislinn Conrad, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Social Work at The University of Iowa
Anastasia Miller
Anastasia MillerProgram Director, Healthcare Leadership B.S., University of Louisville
Michael Flynn
Michael FlynnProfessor of Law at Nova Southeastern University - Florida
Zachary Bachner
Zachary BachnerAdvisor and Investment Research Analyst at Summit Financial Consulting
Dr. Pallavi Panda, Ph.D.
Dr. Pallavi Panda, Ph.D.Associate Professor of Economics in the School of Business at SUNY Geneseo
Dr. Stephen Willand
Dr. Stephen WillandAdjunct Professor at the School of Business, Quinsigamond Community College
Mengying He
Mengying HeAssistant Professor of Healthcare Management at California State University, Los Angeles
David Sacco
David SaccoPractitioner in Residence at the University of New Haven
Meghan Hope
Meghan HopeFaculty, BS in Health Studies Program at Walden University
Geoffrey Hill
Geoffrey HillCEO & Principal Advisor at Raisonné & Hammer Price Corporation
Matt Hylland
Matt HyllandFinancial Planner at Arnold & Mote Wealth Management
Dr. Andrew Burnstine
Dr. Andrew BurnstineAssociate Professor of Marketing at Lynn University
Amit Sinha
Amit SinhaProfessor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University
Jonathan Handy
Jonathan HandyAssistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University
Brian J. Adams, Ph.D.
Brian J. Adams, Ph.D.Associate Dean of Graduate Business Programs and Professor of Finance at the University of Portland's Pamplin School of Business
Raymond March, Ph.D.
Raymond March, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Economics at North Dakota State University
Teresa Serratt
Teresa SerrattDNP Program Director and Associate Professor at Boise State University School of Nursing
Kamal Gursahani
Kamal GursahaniVice Chair for Education; Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine
Li Zhang, Ph.D.
Li Zhang, Ph.D.Professor at Department of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate at St. Cloud State University
Makayla Lavender, Ph.D.
Makayla Lavender, Ph.D.Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Lanlan (Lacey) Chu
Lanlan (Lacey) ChuAssistant Professor of Economics at St. Catherine University
Matt Rutledge
Matt RutledgeAssociate Professor of the Practice of Economics at Boston College
Jeanne M. Boeh
Jeanne M. BoehProfessor of Economics at Augsburg University
Dr. Brandon Di Paolo Harrison
Dr. Brandon Di Paolo HarrisonAssistant Professor of Accounting at Austin Peay State University
Dr. Sherif A. Ebrahim
Dr. Sherif A. EbrahimProfessor at Tulane University and Chairman at SMG Capital
Jonathan Gruber
Jonathan GruberProfessor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jeff Bolles, Ph.D.
Jeff Bolles, Ph.D.Interim MBA Director at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Haizhen Lin
Haizhen LinAssociate Professor of Business Economics at Indiana University
Dr. Kara Grant
Dr. Kara GrantAssistant Professor of Economics at Missouri Western State University
Patricia Born
Patricia BornProfessor at Florida State University
Lacey Loomer, PhD, MSPH
Lacey Loomer, PhD, MSPHAssistant Professor of Health Care Management at the University of Minnesota Duluth
Deborah M Mullen, PhD.
Deborah M Mullen, PhD.Greg Vital - Franklin Farrow Associate Professor in Healthcare Administration at the University of Tennessee
Gal Wettstein
Gal WettsteinSenior Research Economist at Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
Jeffrey DeSimone
Jeffrey DeSimoneVisiting Associate Professor of Economics at Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa
Dr. Greg Page
Dr. Greg PageAssistant Professor of the Practice of Health Care Management at the Phillips School of Business at High Point University
Joanna Short
Joanna ShortAssociate Professor of Economics at Augustana College
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
Henrique Veras
Henrique VerasVisiting Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Centre College
Jennifer Juguilon-Hottle, MBA
Jennifer Juguilon-Hottle, MBAAdjunct Faculty Member at Baldwin Wallace University
Zhigang Feng, Ph.D.
Zhigang Feng, Ph.D.Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, University at Nebraska at Omaha
Marta Podemska-Mikluch
Marta Podemska-MikluchSchnell Family Chair in Econ-Capital Systems and Associate Professor in Economics and Management and Public Health at Gustavus Adolphus College

Affordable Health Insurance FAQ

When looking for health insurance, it’s common to have questions about finding low-cost options. If so, you may benefit from answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about affordable health insurance.

How much is private health insurance?
Is it cheaper to buy your own health insurance?
Where can I buy health insurance on my own?

About Mandy Sleight


Mandy Sleight headshot

Mandy Sleight is a licensed property, casualty, life and health insurance agent with 20 years of experience in the industry. She has worked for major insurance companies like State Farm and Nationwide, and most recently as the Operations Coordinator for a startup employee benefits company.

Sleight holds a business administration and management degree from the University of Baltimore and a master's in business administration from Southern New Hampshire University. She uses her vast knowledge of insurance and personal finance to create easy-to-understand and engaging content to help readers make smarter choices with their budgets and finances.


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