How to Get Cheap Health Insurance in 2020

Health insurance in the United States is available through many different providers. The cheapest option is to enroll in the federal Medicaid program, but eligibility will depend on the state you live in. For most people, the best deal on individual health insurance can be found through your state marketplace. Here you can search and compare for affordable health insurance policies from multiple companies to find the best plan available.

Medicaid

The cheapest health insurance option will be Medicaid. However, you must first be eligible to enroll in the federal insurance program. To be eligible, your household income must be less than either 133% or 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL). The exact eligibility level will depend on the state that you live in since some states have passed legislation to expand their Medicaid programs to more low-income adults.

What is the best cheap individual health insurance?

If you are not eligible for Medicaid, cheap health insurance with full medical benefits can be purchased through state health insurance marketplaces. Full benefits mean that these health insurance plans will provide comprehensive coverage for all 10 of the essential health benefits required to be covered under the Affordable Care Act. The essential health benefits include:

  • Outpatient services
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance abuse care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative services
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventative and wellness services
  • Pediatric services

Important note

The cheapest health insurance policy is not always the plan with the lowest premiums. Instead, the most affordable option is the policy that provides the right amount of health insurance coverage — depending on your medical needs and health — at your best rate.

We compared individual health insurance plans offered on all state health insurance marketplaces to identify the lowest-cost option at each level of coverage. A marketplace policy is available if you currently do not receive coverage through an employer or federal government.

Bronze: Lowest rates, high out-of-pocket expenses

Bronze metal tier health insurance policies are the cheapest available on state health insurance marketplaces. Although they have the lowest premiums, the deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums are higher than for the other tiers. For this reason, if you expect to have large medical expenses in the coming year, we recommend you do not select a Bronze policy.

You may notice that your state has a Catastrophic health insurance policy. This is an even lower-cost marketplace health insurance option that is only available if you are under 30 years old or have a hardship exemption.

Silver: Cheap rates for low-income households

Silver health insurance policies are middle-ground plans that have modest premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. For many low-income families, a Silver plan is the most affordable medical insurance due to cost-sharing reductions, which allow eligible individuals to receive reductions on the amount they pay in premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.

You are eligible for reductions if your household income is less than 250% of the federal poverty level. This can reduce premiums significantly and make the Silver plan an excellent choice for many families.

Gold: High premiums, but low out-of-pocket expenses

Gold health insurance plans are often the most expensive that you can purchase on your state marketplace. However, Gold plans will have the most affordable deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. For this reason, a Gold health insurance policy can help you save money if you expect high medical expenses during the plan year.

For example, if you need to refill an expensive drug prescription on a monthly basis, then you should consider Gold health insurance.

If you do expect high medical bills, you may also want to consider Platinum health insurance. Platinum policies have relatively expensive premiums, but also the cheapest deductible — Platinum policies frequently have a $0 deductible. However, these plans are not available in all states.

What is the cheapest individual health insurance in my state?

The best affordable health insurance policy for you is a plan that provides enough health coverage for you and your family. In most situations, we recommend purchasing a Silver health insurance policy if buying coverage from your health insurance marketplace. As mentioned above, these plans have modest premiums with minimal out-of-pocket expenses in case you or a loved one gets sick or injured. Furthermore, the Silver policy deductibles are usually lower and easier to reach.

State Number of providers Cheapest Silver plan Monthly cost for a 40-year-old
Alabama 2 Blue Cross Select Silver $490.91
Alaska 2 Moda Pioneer Silver 4500 $683.00
Arizona 5 Silver 1 $324.51
Arkansas 4 Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $357.67
California 12 Silver 70 CommunityCare HMO $327.14
Colorado 6 KP Select Co Silver 4000/30/HSA $311.51
Connecticut 2 Choice Silver Alternative POS $398.10
Delaware 1 Health Savings Embedded Blue EPO Silver 3950 HSA $521.49
Florida 9 BlueSelect Silver 1443 $404.69
Georgia 6 Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $367.00
Hawaii 2 KP HI Silver 4000/45 $460.45
Idaho 4 Select Silver 3500 $478.67
Illinois 5 Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $344.26
Indiana 2 Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $272.31
Iowa 3 Inspire by Medica Silver Copay $559.43
Kansas 5 Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $418.06
Kentucky 2 Anthem Silver Pathway X Transition HMO 6700 $397.55
Louisiana 4 Blue Connect 80/60 $3,400 (S) $417.02
Maine 3 Maines Choice HMO Silver 6200 $450.34
Maryland 2 KP MD Silver 6000/35/Dental $404.17
Massachusetts 9 Tufts Health Direct Silver 2000 II $311.93
Michigan 9 Meridian Healthy Silver $306.99
Minnesota 4 Peak Individual $3,000 HSA Silver $327.22
Mississippi 2 Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $398.97
Missouri 7 Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $405.20
Montana 3 Co-op Plus Silver $276.58
Nebraska 2 Medica with CHI Health Silver Copay $554.42
Nevada 2 Ambetter Balanced Care 4 $364.70
New Hampshire 3 Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $390.45
New Jersey 4 IHC Silver EPO AmeriHealth Advantage $25/$50 $378.52
New Mexico 4 Constant Care Silver 1 $307.60
New York 17 IND Destination 65, Silver, NS, INN, Dep25 $480.46
North Carolina 4 Silver 4 $405.41
North Dakota 3 Sanford TRUE $4,750 $320.45
Ohio 10 Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $321.00
Oklahoma 3 Silver 4 $492.06
Oregon 5 Connect 4500 Silver $397.00
Pennsylvania 12 Together Blue EPO Silver 3950 HSA $329.00
Rhode Island 2 Neighborhood PLUS $299.51
South Carolina 4 Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $372.09
South Dakota 2 Avera Preferred 2750 $463.10
Tennessee 5 Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $456.40
Texas 8 Ambetter Balanced Care 5 (2020) $337.37
Utah 5 Cigna Connect 1900 $449.46
Vermont 2 [MVP VT Plus] Silver 1 $474.08
Virginia 9 OptimaFit Silver 6600 30% Select CH M $460.29
Washington 5 Ambetter Balanced Care 4 $343.14
West Virginia 2 CareSource Marketplace Low Premium Silver $471.15
Wisconsin 13 Dean Focus Network Silver HSA-E 4000X $396.21
Wyoming 1 BlueSelect Silver Balance $806.05

How do I choose the most affordable medical insurance?

The most affordable health insurance depends on your household income. The cheapest option is to enroll in Medicaid if your income falls below 138% of the federal poverty level. This is a federally funded health insurance program that provides health benefits to low-income individuals. For those not eligible for this option, the most affordable solution may be through your state marketplace, as well as off-exchange plans, including short-term health insurance policies.

It’s important to note that the cheapest health insurance plan may not always be the right policy for you. Therefore, to find the best value coverage, you should evaluate your medical needs before buying a health insurance policy.

Short-term health insurance

Short-term health insurance is cheaper than marketplace health care. These plans have low-cost monthly premiums, but the policies may only extend a few months — up to one year at most, depending on short-term health insurance laws in your state.

Another reason for the reduced cost is that short-term health insurance is not required to cover the same health benefits as individual medical plans. These health policies typically will not cover all of the essential health benefits covered under the Affordable Care Act insurance found on your state marketplace.

Cheap health insurance for students

Students often have additional health insurance options. Many universities and colleges provide free health insurance to students through a school-sponsored plan. These policies typically provide health insurance for most on-campus medical services, but you may lose the coverage if you become a part-time student or transfer schools.

Another option for some students is to purchase a student health plan. These health insurance policies are designed for full-time students between the ages of 17 and 29. Plans can be bought through most large health insurance companies and are paid either by an annual or semiannual premium. A student health plan can be a great cheap medical insurance option because you will not lose your coverage if you decide to transfer to a different school.

Cheapest health insurance companies

When evaluating affordable health insurance policies, you will find there are some companies that consistently offer cheaper rates than others. However, these providers may not offer policies with as many benefits as other plans. This is an important factor to evaluate when searching for the best policy for your family.

For example, our analysis found that in 10 states, the cheapest health insurance company that offers Silver marketplace health insurance was Ambetter. Ambetter has affordable medical insurance policies, but these do not include additional benefits like gym membership discounts or exclusive offers like gift cards if you participate in healthy activities.

Health insurance provider Number of states with cheapest Silver plan
Ambetter 9
Blue Cross Blue Shield 9
Kaiser Permanente 5
Cigna Health and Life Company 4
Medica Insurance Company 2
SelectHealth 2
Sanford Health Plan 2
Tufts Health 1
Maine Community Health Options 1
Total Health Care 1
Group Health Plan 1
Connecticare 1
Health CO-OP 1
CareSource 1
AmeriHealth Insurance Company 1
Health Connections 1
Fidelis Care 1
UPMC Health Options 1
Neighborhood Community 1
MVP VT Plus 1
MercyCare 1

Affordable health insurance for seniors

Seniors have the highest health insurance costs in the country, with 60-year-olds paying 68% — or $349 — more on average per month than 40-year-olds. For many seniors, there’s a gap of several years between entering retirement and enrolling in Medicare. During this period, seniors may find they need to purchase their own individual health insurance policies from their state marketplace.

However, finding affordable health insurance rates can be difficult. To aid in your search, we have provided the cheapest Silver health insurance plan for a senior (60 years or older) in each state.

State Plan name Monthly premium % change vs. average
Alabama Blue Cross Select Silver $1,043 21.13%
Alaska Moda Pioneer Silver 4500 $1,450 68.48%
Arizona Silver 1 $689 -19.93%
Arkansas Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $760 -11.75%
California Silver 70 CommunityCare HMO $695 -19.28%
Colorado KP Select CO Silver 4000/30/HSA $662 -23.14%
Connecticut Choice Silver Alternative POS $845 -1.77%
Delaware Health Savings Embedded Blue EPO Silver 3950 HSA $1,107 28.67%
Florida BlueSelect Silver 1443 $1,018 18.28%
Georgia Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $779 -9.44%
Hawaii KP HI Silver 4000/45 $978 13.61%
Idaho SelectHealth Silver 3500 $1,017 18.11%
Illinois Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $906 5.23%
Indiana Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $578 -32.81%
Iowa Inspire by Medica Silver Copay $1,188 38.04%
Kansas Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $888 3.15%
Kentucky Anthem Silver Pathway X Transition HMO 6700 $844 -1.91%
Louisiana Blue Connect 80/60 $3400 (S) $886 2.90%
Maine Maines Choice HMO Silver 6200 $956 11.12%
Maryland KP MD Silver 6000/35/Dental $858 -0.27%
Massachusetts Tufts Health Direct Silver 2000 II $530 -38.46%
Michigan Meridian Healthy Silver $652 -24.25%
Minnesota Peak Individual $3000 HSA Silver $695 -19.26%
Mississippi Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $847 -1.56%
Missouri Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $860 -0.02%
Montana Co-op Plus Silver $1,061 23.26%
Nebraska Medica with CHI Health Silver Copay $1,177 36.80%
Nevada Ambetter Balanced Care 4 (2020) $774 -10.01%
New Hampshire Ambetter Balanced Care 11 (2020) $829 -3.66%
New Jersey IHC Silver EPO AmeriHealth Advantage $25/$50 $804 -6.60%
New Mexico Constant Care Silver 1 $653 -24.10%
New York IND Destination 65, Silver, NS, INN, Dep25 $480 -44.18%
North Carolina Silver 4 $861 0.03%
North Dakota Sanford TRUE $4,750 $681 -20.93%
Ohio Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $681 -20.87%
Oklahoma Silver 4 $1,045 21.41%
Oregon Connect 4500 Silver $843 -2.05%
Pennsylvania Together Blue EPO Silver 3950 HSA $698 -18.90%
Rhode Island Neighborhood COMMUNITY $610 -29.17%
South Carolina Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $790 -8.19%
South Dakota Avera Preferred 2750 $983 14.27%
Tennessee Ambetter Balanced Care 12 (2020) $969 12.61%
Texas Ambetter Balanced Care 5 (2020) $716 -16.76%
Utah Cigna Connect 1900 $912 5.93%
Vermont [MVP VT Plus] Silver 1 $474 -44.92%
Virginia OptimaFit Silver 6600 30% Select CH M $977 13.57%
Washington Ambetter Balanced Care 4 $729 -15.33%
West Virginia CareSource Marketplace Low Premium Silver $1,001 16.25%
Wisconsin Dean Focus Network Silver HSA-E 4000X $841 -2.24%
Wyoming BlueSelect Silver Balance $1,712 98.89%
National average n/a $861 0.00%

We recommend beginning with a Silver health insurance policy because they tend to have modest premiums and adequate coverage. But, if you have underlying health conditions, then looking into a Gold or Platinum policy could be beneficial since these policies will typically offer more robust health insurance coverage.

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