Are you living without any kind of health insurance coverage? If you are, you might risk more than just your health — you could also put your family’s financial well being at risk.
There are plenty of ways to find affordable health insurance from the comfort of your home, even if you don’t qualify for an employer-sponsored plan.
As Open Enrollment approaches, we’ll teach you how to get health insurance that fits your family’s budget and your needs. We’ll also introduce you to a few of our favorite health insurance providers and show you what exactly you can expect your health insurance plan to cover.
Explore All Health Insurance
Tip: compare 2-3 quotes
The Best Health Insurance:
- Best Overall Health Insurance: UnitedHealthcare
- Best for Wide Coverage: Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Best for Short Term Health Insurance: AgileHealthInsurance.com
- Best for Affordable Plan Options: Kaiser Permanente
- Best for Online Access: Aetna
- Best for Coverage Outside of the U.S.: Cigna
- Best for Medicare Advantage: Humana
1. Best Overall Health Insurance: UnitedHealthcare
As one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States, UnitedHealthcare is available in nearly every ZIP code.
UnitedHealthcare offers a wide variety of insurance options from supplemental plans for students to fully-compliant Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans for individuals and families. UnitedHealthcare has a variety of metal tiers and varying plan options to help you balance your costs and coverage.
Prefer to handle your insurance online? UnitedHealthcare also provides one of the best online health portals with virtual consultations at no additional cost. You can also schedule doctor appointments, view your claims and manage your policy all from your MyUHC account.
2. Best for Wide Coverage: Blue Cross Blue Shield
Looking for the widest range of coverage possible? Be sure to consider a plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Blue Cross Blue Shield maintains one of the largest networks and insures 1 out of every 3 Americans — a vital asset if you live in a rural area where fewer health insurance companies operate.
Blue Cross Blue Shield offers plans with varying deductible and coinsurance options to help you choose a plan you can afford. The provider also maintains a comprehensive patient portal to view your policy, find doctors in your network and schedule appointments online. You’ll find coverage in nearly every part of the country and a comprehensive range of plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield is a great option for almost anyone who needs coverage.
3. Best for Short Term Health Insurance: AgileHealthInsurance.com
Short-term health insurance is a type of temporary protection that provides limited benefits. Though short-term plans aren’t a permanent solution to the issue of health insurance coverage, they can be useful for low-income families who need to fill a gap in coverage.
AgileHealthInsurance isn’t technically a health insurance company because it doesn’t issue plans in any part of the country. However, AgileHealthInsurance.com is an online search tool that makes it exceptionally easy to compare your options for short term coverage.
Simply enter your name, date of birth, email address and phone number to start comparing quotes instantly. When you find coverage that’s right for you, click and pay your first premium. You can get short term coverage in as little as 10 minutes.
4. Best for Affordable Plan Options: Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is a private health insurance provider that operates as both your insurance provider and your network. Kaiser Permanente passes the savings along to you by cutting out the middleman and providing you with the care you need.
The company’s HMO plans are some of the most affordable in the country — an excellent choice if you’re struggling to access affordable care. Kaiser Permanente also offers a wide variety of plan options and tiers so you can customize your premium and the level of benefits you receive.
5. Best for Online Access: Aetna
Aetna offers tiered health insurance plans, and the company takes special care to streamline and improve on the patient portal model. Through your Aetna account, you can schedule appointments, find new doctors or specialists, print your medical ID card and more.
Aetna also offers a comprehensive app compatible with iPhone, Android and the Apple Watch to help you set and work toward your health and fitness goals. If you’re tech-savvy and need an online one stop shop for your healthcare needs, Aetna is an excellent choice.
6. Best for Coverage Outside of the U.S.: Cigna
An accident or illness can strike at any time, so if you’re a frequent traveler, you might find yourself with a lapse in coverage when you need it the most. A lot of health insurance companies don’t extend coverage outside of the United States.
However, with Cigna’s International Health Insurance plan, you have access to a network of over 1.65 million hospitals and medical professionals around the globe. Plans are valid for everything from short vacations abroad to extended stays outside of the country, and customer service is available 24/7 to help you when you need it.
7. Best for Medicare Advantage: Humana
Are you a senior citizen? If so, you’ll typically have access to free or low-cost Medicare issued through the federal government. You might also want to choose a Medicare Advantage plan from a private company because Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything.
Humana specializes in offering exceptionally affordable Medicare Advantage plans intended to offer more coverage than Original Medicare. Many of Humana’s options offer $0 monthly premiums, and most plans also include $0 deductibles. You can even supplement your Medicare Advantage plan with a comprehensive prescription drug plan for as little as $13 per month. If you’re close to age 65 and think a Medicare Advantage plan might suit your needs, consider a plan from Humana.
The Average Cost of Health Insurance
The price you’ll pay for health insurance will vary depending on your age. As you get older, your medical care costs typically increase and you’ll pay more for insurance.
The average monthly premium for health insurance for an individual falls into these average ranges:
|18 to 24||$180|
|25 to 34||$240|
|35 to 44||$300|
|45 to 54||$400|
|55 to 64||$580|
What Does Health Insurance Typically Cover?
Long-term health insurance plans are legally required to offer some form of coverage for the 10 essential benefits laid out by the ACA. No matter which ACA Marketplace plan you purchase, you’ll have coverage for at least the following:
- Ambulatory patient services, including care that you receive without being admitted to the hospital
- Emergency services at any hospital, regardless of whether the hospital is in your network
- Hospitalization, including planned surgeries and overnight stays
- Prescription drugs
- Treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders, including both inpatient and outpatient treatments and therapies
- Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care, including breastfeeding support
- Rehabilitative and habilitative services and treatments required to regain physical or cognitive abilities after you’re injured or to treat a chronic condition
- Preventive and wellness services, including vaccinations and routine physicals
- Lab work and blood tests
- Pediatric services for kids for all of the above-listed services, plus dental and vision services
If you’re a female, your insurance provider also needs to cover all forms of birth control approved by the FDA. This includes barrier methods, hormonal methods and emergency contraceptives. Your insurance may not extend to birth control if you get your health insurance through an employer registered as a church or religious nonprofit.
These essential benefits only apply to long-term plans you purchase on the ACA Marketplace. If you buy a short term plan outside of the Marketplace, your insurance provider may pick and choose which services are covered. Almost every short term plan excludes coverage for prescription drugs and maternity care, and you can also be denied coverage for a preexisting condition. Before you enroll in a short term plan, be 100% sure you know what your plan covers.
What Does Health Insurance not Cover?
Even the best ACA health insurance plan won’t cover everything. Let’s take a look at some common exclusions you might see on your health insurance policy:
- Cosmetic surgery: No insurance plan will cover elective or nonessential surgery.
- Dental and vision services for adults: Under the ACA, your insurance provider only needs to cover dental and vision services for the children included in your plan. If you’d like to add these coverages for adults on your plan, you’ll typically be able to purchase an additional plan through your insurance company.
- Weight-loss surgery: There is currently no federal requirement that compels insurance companies to cover bariatric surgery, even if it’s deemed medically necessary. However, a number of states have introduced their own requirements.
- Non-routine vaccinations: Your insurance provider is only required to cover vaccinations and boosters considered routine by the CDC. If you need a nonroutine vaccine before travel (like yellow fever or hepatitis A vaccines), you’ll probably need to cover it out of pocket.
- Male birth control: The ACA’s birth control requirement only extends to female contraceptives. Health insurance plans rarely cover male forms of birth control.
If you buy a short term plan, your list of excluded services will be much longer. Read your policy’s terms before you buy to make sure you have the benefits you need.
Protect Your Health with the Right Insurance
Getting health insurance doesn’t need to be complicated or overly expensive. Begin by collecting a few quotes in your area customized with your date of birth and ZIP code. You might be surprised at just how affordable it is to find a plan for your family.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Q: How can I save money on health insurance?
For healthcare plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act, only a handful of rating factors affect your premium. These include age and location, at least one of which can’t be changed. Smokers will pay more in most cases and your choice of plan level can affect premiums as well. Choosing a high deductible health insurance plan can reduce the cost of premiums. These plans can be combined with a health savings account to take advantage of tax-free savings for healthcare expenses. Get the cheapest health insurance premium from top providers.
2) Q: What does health insurance cover?
Most health insurance plans provide the 10 essential health benefits that were part of Obamacare requirements. Coverages include preventive and wellness services, prescription drug coverage, emergency services, ambulatory services, lab services, pediatric services, and more. Many plans cover a wider range of healthcare expenses but may cost more than basic plans or may have higher out-of-pocket costs for some services.Get a custom health insurance quote to cover you and your family today.
3) Q: Is health insurance required?
The federal mandate that required health insurance has been lifted but some states have enacted state-level mandates that require residents to have health insurance. Even where not required, health insurance can protect your family against catastrophic healthcare costs and help make routine medical expenses more predictable. Get your most affordable quote through our top providers today.