Looking for cheap health insurance plans? You’re not alone. Cheap health insurance options seem hard to come by, but there are some things you can do to find a good plan that works for your needs.
Here’s what you need to know to find the best cheap health insurance.
Where Do You Purchase Health Insurance?
There are a few different ways to purchase health insurance. The way that’s right for you will depend on your employment, income level and other factors. You can enroll in a new health insurance plan during the Open Enrollment Period, which usually runs from November 1 to December 15.
You may also be able to enroll in a health insurance plan at other times of the year if you experience a qualifying life event. Qualifying life events can include changes in the household such as getting married or losing your previous health coverage.
Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance
If you are employed full-time, you may be able to enroll in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Larger companies with over 50 full-time employees are required to offer health coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance is considered a group plan, and your employer will provide you with information about the plans that it offers each year.
When you enroll with a health insurance plan through your employer, they can pay part of your monthly premiums. You may even be able to deduct your portion of the premium from your pre-tax pay each month.
Pros and Cons
Employer-sponsored health insurance brings its own benefits and drawbacks. Take a look at the breakdown of the most common:
- Your employer helps you enroll in its health insurance plans
- Can cost you less money in monthly premiums
- You may be able to add your spouses and/or dependents to an employer-sponsored health insurance plan
- You may have fewer cheap health insurance options to choose from since your employer picks the plans it offers
- If you lose your job, you will also be at risk of losing your health insurance coverage
If you are self-employed, unemployed or your employer does not offer health insurance coverage, the Marketplace is a good place to start looking for a health insurance program. You can explore health insurance plans via healthcare.gov or your state’s health insurance marketplace, depending on where you live.
The options that are available to you through the marketplace will depend on factors such as your location, age, family size and income level. After you’ve reviewed your options, you can choose and purchase the plan that meets your needs.
Pros and Cons
While the Marketplace is a great place to explore your options, it also has its limitations. Take a look at the pros and cons of using the Marketplace:
- You have more health insurance options than you would with employer-sponsored health insurance plans
- The Marketplace can let you know if you’re eligible for subsidies to help make your premiums more affordable
- You need to take the initiative and find health insurance plans on your own
- Purchasing health insurance from the Marketplace can be more complicated
Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are government programs that provide free or low-cost health insurance to individuals or families on a limited income. You can enroll in these plans by either using the Insurance Marketplace or through your state’s Medicaid agency.
Pros and Cons
Take a look at both the pros and cons government health insurance programs:
- Can provide free or low-cost coverage to qualifying individuals, including children, the elderly, pregnant people and those with disabilities
- No Open Enrollment Period, so you can apply for coverage at any time
- Only available to qualifying individuals and families
- Some Medicaid programs use private insurance companies to provide coverage, which can make using your coverage more difficult in some cases
If you want help finding the best cheap health insurance, you might want to consider working with a private broker. These individuals have experience finding and evaluating health insurance plans and should be able to help you find some decent options.
If you decide to use a broker, you’ll need to consider whether you want to work with a broker that sells Marketplace insurance plans or non-Marketplace insurance plans. Some brokers may be able to sell both types of plans.
Pros and Cons
Ready to contact a broker? Weigh the pros and cons first.
- Advice from someone who has experience evaluating health insurance plans
- No extra money since you don’t pay a fee
- Does not raise your health insurance premium
- It can take more time to find and work with an insurance broker than it would be for you to choose a health insurance plan on your own
- Carefully consider the coverage that a broker suggests to you since they may tell you about coverages that you may not need
How to Find Cheaper Health Insurance
There are some ways you can get cheaper health insurance even after all of the plans are laid out in front of you. The important thing to remember is that you need to consider your health insurance needs and the likelihood of using your coverage throughout the year.
You’ll often come across suggestions to raise your deductible so you can pay less on your insurance premium. However, it also means paying more out-of-pocket costs than you would with a lower deductible.
Here are some things to consider if you’re still looking for cheap health insurance options.
Don’t feel like you need to pick the first plan that you come across. It’s a good idea to look at all of your options and compare them. Make sure you look at the coverage that is included in each plan, as well as the monthly premium, deductible, copays and maximum out-of-pocket limits.
If you already have relationships with your doctors, you may also want to check to see which plans your doctors accept before you choose one.
Switch to Medicaid
If you think you might qualify for Medicaid, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your state’s Medicaid agency to see if you can enroll. If it’s Open Enrollment season or you have a qualifying life event, you can also input your information into the Marketplace to see if Medicaid is an option for you.
Put the Kids on Medicaid
Your kids may be eligible for government programs, even if you aren’t. This is something you can also discuss with your state’s Medicaid agency.
If you have a spouse, see if it would be less expensive to put both of you on the same policy. Sometimes one spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance is better than the others. In other cases, it might be better to go through the Marketplace. Either way, it’s good to know all of your options.
Read the Fine Print
Make sure you look at more than just the numbers. A policy might seem great and come with a lot of benefits, but if you don’t use the benefits, is it worth the cost? Look specifically at the coverages that apply to you.
For example, if you are on prescription drugs, take a look at the costs of your medications under each insurance plan. You might also want to take a look at the copays for each type of service under the health insurance plan.
Medical Networks, Clubs and Co-ops
Health insurance co-ops are less common than other options but might be worth looking into. Since co-ops are owned by the members, the costs of care are typically lower than if you were to use a for-profit insurance company.
You can also see if there are doctors in your area that offer cash prices instead of going through insurance.
A short-term health insurance plan can be useful if you’re looking for coverage for a brief period and don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. Short-term health insurance plans aren’t available or suitable for long-term use but can help you out if you need some time before you can enroll in a better plan.
Compare Health Insurance
Fortunately, you don’t have to take this search on alone. There are several health insurance providers across the country that are known for providing fair coverage and good customer service.
Start with Benzinga’s list of the best cheap health insurance providers.
- Best For:Nationwide coveragesecurely through Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance's website
- Best For:No enrollment period health insurancesecurely through Sidecar Health Access Plan's website
Plans referred to above are excepted benefit fixed indemnity insurance products marketed and administered by Sidecar Health Insurance Solutions, LLC and underwritten by Sirius America Insurance Company or United States Fire Insurance Company, depending on the state. As an excepted benefit plan, it does not provide comprehensive/major medical expenses coverage, minimum essential coverage, or essential health benefits. You cannot receive a subsidy (premium tax credit and/or cost-sharing reduction) under the ACA in connection with your purchase of such an excepted benefit fixed indemnity insurance plan. Also, the termination or loss of this policy does not entitle you to a special enrollment period to purchase a health benefit plan that qualifies as minimum essential coverage outside of an open enrollment period. Coverage and plan options may vary or may not be available in all states.
- Best For:Access to Kaiser medical specialists
- Best For:Same day coverage available
- Best For:Pharmacy programs
If you’re ready to enroll in your next health insurance plan, you’re going to need the tools to make the most informed decision. Benzinga has you covered with health insurance guides, health insurance provider reviews and more so you can take your future into your own hands with confidence.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cheapest health insurance?
The cheapest health insurance depends on your situation. Make sure you consider all of your options to find the coverage you need at the best price.
How do I get free or low-cost health insurance?
To see if you qualify for free or low-cost health insurance, you can visit the Marketplace or contact your state’s Medicaid agency.
If you don’t qualify for a government program, you should consider whether a plan through the Marketplace or your employer will be the most cost-effective for you.
About Ashley Hart
Ashley Hart is a personal finance writer passionate about helping people feel empowered to take control of their finances. She has more than eight years of writing experience, focused on insurance.