Best Affordable Health Insurance Plans for families

Kaiser Permanente stands out as the top choice for cost-effective health insurance within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace for families. Utilizing HealthCare.gov, you can easily evaluate various health plan options, assessing factors like costs, deductibles, and coinsurance. This platform proves invaluable for securing health coverage when workplace options are unavailable. Our thorough analysis of ACA coverage plans ensures the discovery of the optimal and most economical health insurance solution.

Summary: The Best Affordable Health Insurance Companies for families

Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross Blue Shield lead our ranking, with UnitedHealthcare also earning commendable scores.

Our expert take Company Forbes Advisor Rating LEARN MORE
Cheapest Health Insurance Company Kaiser Permanente 5.0

Learn More

On Healthcare Marketplace’s Website

Best Provider Network Blue Cross Blue Shield 5.0

Learn More

On Healthcare Marketplace’s Website

Best for Customer Satisfaction UnitedHealthcare 4.6

Learn More

On Healthcare Marketplace’s Website

Source: Healthcare.gov. The average costs of unsubsidized ACA plans can fluctuate considerably based on your state and age.

How We Chose the Best Affordable Health Insurance Companies

We gathered data encompassing factors such as complaints to state insurance departments, quality assessments, deductibles, the range of health plans, and the offerings across metal tiers. Our editors maintain a dedication to providing impartial ratings and information. Editorial content remains uninfluenced by advertisers. Further details regarding our editorial guidelines and the rating methodology can be found below.

– 259 health insurance plan costs analyzed
– 84 coverage and quality data points examined
– Editorial team boasting 102 years of insurance experience

Best Affordable Health Insurance Companies

Kaiser Permanente stands out as the most economical health insurance provider,

Blue Cross Blue Shield offers the top provider network, and

UnitedHealthcare excels in customer satisfaction.

Kaiser Permanente-Cheapest health insurance company

Rating: 5.0

NCQA Quality Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Average cost for a bronze plan for a 40-year-old: $351 a month

Average bronze plan deductible: $6,700 a year

Kaiser Permanente emerged as the most cost-effective option among the health insurance providers under our scrutiny. Not only does it boast commendable ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance, but it also offers a diverse selection of four metal tiers on the ACA marketplace. We appreciate Kaiser Permanente’s extensive range of choices, facilitating the discovery of an optimal balance between premiums and out-of-pocket costs tailored to individual needs.

– Garners the highest average ACA plan ratings among the insurers scrutinized.
– Operates an integrated health system, potentially minimizing claims issues and enhancing healthcare continuity.
– Attains the highest NCQA quality rating among the health insurance companies analyzed.
– Offers the lowest health insurance deductible for bronze plans, on average, compared to other major insurers.

Shortcomings:

Limited to operations in eight states and Washington, D.C.
Consumer complaints filed with state insurance commissioners surpass the industry average.

Marketplace Health Plan Availability:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

Blue Cross Blue Shield- Best Provider Network

Rating: 5.0

NCQA Quality Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Average cost for a bronze plan for a 40-year-old: $458 a month

Average bronze plan deductible: $7,173 a year

We appreciate the nationwide availability of Blue Cross Blue Shield providers, spanning every state. With over 1.7 million in-network providers across 33 independent insurers, it ensures accessibility to in-network care even while traveling. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers three health plan types and four metal tiers on the ACA marketplace.

– Boasts silver plan deductible costs lower than the industry average.
– Nationwide availability ensures coverage consistency.
– Receives quality ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance that surpass the industry average.

Shortcomings:

The volume of complaints lodged with state insurance commissioners slightly exceeds the industry average. ACA marketplace premiums are higher in comparison to the competitors we assessed.

Marketplace Health Plan Availability:

Every state in the U.S. and Washington, D.C.

UnitedHealthcare: Best for customer satisfaction

Rating: 4.6

NCQA Quality Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Average cost for a bronze plan for a 40-year-old: $427 a month

Average bronze plan deductible: $8,177 a year

UnitedHealthcare stood out as the sole insurer in our examination boasting a below-average level of complaints to state insurance departments. This suggests potentially higher levels of customer satisfaction compared to competitors. Additionally, we appreciate its above-average plan ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

– Features a vast provider network spanning the nation, comprising 1.5 million providers and 7,000 hospitals and facilities.
– Offers three metal tiers on the ACA marketplace.
– Provides a range of additional insurance options, including dental, vision, accident, and critical illness plans.

Shortcomings:

Premiums surpass those of some competitors.
Doesn’t provide as many metal tiers or health plan types on the ACA marketplace compared to competitors.

Marketplace Health Plan Availability:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • IIllinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington

How Can I Get Affordable Health Insurance?

There are various avenues to explore when seeking affordable health insurance.

1. Employment: Many pre-retirement Americans obtain group health insurance through their employer, which often offers competitive rates.

2. Affordable Care Act Marketplace: HealthCare.gov provides access to the ACA marketplace, where you may discover affordable health insurance options, particularly if you qualify for subsidies.

3. Family Coverage: Employers frequently allow employees to include spouses and dependent children in their health plans, which can be a cost-effective alternative to individual coverage.

4. Medicaid: Medicaid, a federal/state program designed for low-income individuals, offers comprehensive coverage at reduced costs. Eligibility is based on household income, and premiums can be as low as zero in some cases.

5. Short-Term Health Insurance: Available in most states, short-term health insurance plans offer low-cost coverage but typically come with limitations, such as exclusions for prescriptions, mental health services, maternity care, and pre-existing conditions.

How Much Does Health Insurance Cost?

On the Affordable Care Act marketplace, a bronze health insurance plan typically costs an average of $373 per month for a 30-year-old, $420 for a 40-year-old, $587 for a 50-year-old, and $890 for a 60-year-old.

Comparatively, silver plans, which have the next lowest premiums, average $488 per month for a 30-year-old, $549 for a 40-year-old, $767 for a 50-year-old, and $1,164 for a 60-year-old.

These averages do not include subsidies or tax credits, which can significantly lower overall costs. ACA plans are the only ones eligible for these tax credits, available to individuals with household incomes below 400% of the federal poverty level.

Age is a significant factor influencing the cost of ACA marketplace coverage.

Age of member Average monthly overall cost Blue Cross Blue Shield monthly cost Kaiser Permanente monthly cost UnitedHealthcare monthly cost
Age 21
$397
$444
$348
$396
Age 27
$419
$468
$365
$415
Age 30
$453
$506
$396
$450
Age 40
$509
$569
$445
$506
Age 50
$712
$795
$622
$708
Age 60
$1,079
$1,206
$946
$1,076

Source: HealthCare.gov. Based on unsubsidized ACA plans.

Health insurance expenses within the ACA marketplace fluctuate due to several determinants, such as:

– The chosen health insurance provider.
– The metal tier selected.
– The specific type of health plan.
– Your age.
– Out-of-pocket expenses, encompassing deductibles and coinsurance.
– Your smoking status.

Monthly Average Health Insurance Costs by Tier

Tier Average monthly cost
Bronze
$345
Silver
$452
Gold
$585

Average costs for a 27-year-old. Source: HealthCare.gov. Based on unsubsidized ACA plans.

Seeking Advice from Experts: Tips for Finding Affordable Health Insurance

 Patrick Padgett (Advisory Board Member)

“Leverage Available Subsidies

When acquiring a plan through the ACA marketplace, subsidies play a crucial role in determining your premium expenses, contingent upon your annual income. If you’re not yet 65 and retired, explore avenues to maintain your taxable income below the specified threshold to qualify for subsidies.”

Les Masterson (Insurance Editor):

“Shop Around for Quotes
If you’re purchasing a health plan via the ACA marketplace, it’s prudent to compare quotes directly on the marketplace website. Ensure you’re comparing costs for the same metal tier to accurately assess the plans.”

Jason Metz (Insurance Lead Editor):

“Explore HMO or EPO Options

For those seeking the most cost-effective health plan benefit structure, consider opting for a health maintenance organization (HMO) or exclusive provider organization (EPO) plan. While these plans necessitate remaining within the designated provider network, they typically offer lower premiums compared to preferred provider organization (PPO) plans.”

Factors to Consider When Seeking Affordable Health Insurance

When in pursuit of an economical health insurance plan, it’s essential to evaluate your family’s current and upcoming healthcare requirements. Consider factors such as potential family expansion, ongoing prescription needs, or anticipated medical procedures, like addressing a persistent knee issue.

These considerations aid in determining whether opting for a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) is suitable. While HDHPs typically feature lower premiums, they entail higher out-of-pocket expenses when healthcare services are needed.

Premiums:

The health insurance premium denotes the cost of maintaining insurance coverage and is a significant determinant of overall health insurance expenses.

Deductibles:

Deductibles influence both the amount paid for health insurance premiums and the out-of-pocket expenses incurred when accessing care. Prior to a health insurer covering healthcare services, you must fulfill your health insurance deductible.

Coinsurance:

Coinsurance pertains to the percentage of healthcare costs borne by you once the deductible has been met. Higher coinsurance implies greater out-of-pocket expenditure when utilizing healthcare services.

Metal Tiers:

ACA plans categorize into four “metal” tiers—bronze, silver, gold, or platinum—based on premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Bronze and silver plans typically feature lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket expenses, while gold and platinum plans exhibit higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs.

Premium Tax Credits:

Exclusive to ACA plans, premium tax credits are contingent upon household income. Depending on your income level, you may qualify for substantial savings on your ACA plan annually.

Provider Network:

Health plans typically encompass provider networks comprising contracted doctors and healthcare professionals. Staying within the network generally results in lower costs compared to seeking out-of-network care.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum:

This represents the maximum amount payable for healthcare services within a year. Deductibles, copays, and coinsurance for in-network services contribute towards this maximum. Once the out-of-pocket maximum is reached, your health insurance plan covers 100% of your in-network costs for the remainder of the year.

Methodology

In determining the best and most affordable health insurance companies, we conducted an analysis of 84 data points across seven major health insurance providers. Our ratings were based on the following criteria:

Complaints to State Insurance Departments (30% of score): Utilizing complaint data sourced from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, we assessed the frequency and nature of complaints lodged against each insurer.

Plan Ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (30% of score): The National Committee for Quality Assurance, an independent nonprofit organization, provided ratings based on various metrics including patient experience, prevention, treatment, overall health plan rating, and care rating.

Average Silver Plan Deductible (20% of score): The deductible, representing the amount individuals must pay for healthcare annually before the health plan begins coverage, was considered. Lower deductibles earned higher scores. Data source: HealthCare.gov.

Breadth of Health Plans (10% of score): We evaluated the diversity of plan benefit designs offered by each health insurance company, including PPO, HMO, EPO, and POS options. More plan types offered resulted in higher scores. Data source: HealthCare.gov.

Metal Tier Offerings (10% of score): Points were allocated based on the number of metal tier levels offered by each company in the ACA marketplace. Data source: HealthCare.gov.

Additional Health Insurance Companies Included in Our Evaluation

Insurance company Forbes Advisor rating

3.2 stars

3.1 stars

2.6 stars

Molina Healthcare

2.5 stars

Affordable Health Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which Health Insurance Company Offers the Best Rates?

Based on our analysis of seven health insurers, Kaiser Permanente emerges as the most affordable health insurance provider.

Our investigation revealed that Kaiser Permanente consistently offers the lowest home insurance rates across various ages and metal tiers on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. For instance, a 40-year-old individual pays an average of $351 per month for an unsubsidized Bronze plan with Kaiser Permanente, compared to $378 with Aetna and $392 with Oscar.

Is Affordable Health Insurance Available Year-Round?

In most cases, you can only purchase a new health insurance plan or modify your existing coverage during the annual open enrollment period, unless you experience a qualifying life event. Typically, open enrollment for ACA marketplace plans occurs from November 1 to January 15 in the majority of states, although some states extend this period.

Qualifying life events, such as loss of health coverage, marriage, or childbirth, trigger a special enrollment period during which you can enroll in or adjust your health coverage.

Is It Possible to Negotiate Health Insurance Costs?

Generally, health insurance costs are not negotiable. However, the insurance company may present alternative plans that better suit your needs.

For example, they might propose a lower-cost bronze plan, suggest opting for a higher deductible, or recommend a more restrictive plan like a health maintenance organization (HMO). These options often feature lower premiums compared to more comprehensive coverage alternatives.

Best Affordable Health Insurance Companies for families

Blue Cross Blue Shield is our top choice for affordable health insurance. It excels in offering the lowest overall costs, providing excellent value with its Silver plans, boasting a diverse range of options, and receiving high-quality ratings. Additionally, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s plans are widely accessible and feature the largest provider network.

While considering the affordability of a health insurance plan, it’s crucial to look beyond just the premium. If you anticipate needing medical care beyond preventive services, prescription fills, or urgent care visits, it’s essential to consider the plan’s deductible and copays as well.

In our assessment of the best affordable health insurance companies, we scrutinized 40 criteria across nine major health insurance providers. These criteria encompassed cost, plan benefits, availability by state, customer satisfaction, plan types offered, availability of ACA metal level plans, and dental coverage.

To gauge plan quality and customer satisfaction, we relied on annual star ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The NCQA, a private nonprofit organization, assesses health plans based on criteria such as patient care quality, patient satisfaction, and efforts to enhance health plan performance.

FAQ:Affordable Health Insurance Companies for families

How Much Does Health Insurance Cost?

Bronze plans offered on the Health Insurance Marketplace are among the most affordable health insurance options available (excluding Catastrophic coverage). The cost varies based on factors such as your location, age, chosen plan, and smoking status. The total cost includes your premium, deductible, copays for doctor visits and prescriptions, and coinsurance after meeting the deductible. Health insurance plans also specify an out-of-pocket maximum—the maximum amount you pay before your insurer covers 100% of your care.

What is the Premium Tax Credit?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) introduced the advance premium tax credit to lower Marketplace health insurance premiums. Eligibility for the premium tax credit depends on factors such as your state of residence, family size, and adjusted gross income. You’ll determine your eligibility for this credit when applying for a Marketplace plan.

What is a Deductible in Health Insurance?

A deductible is the amount you must pay annually before your insurance starts covering your costs. For instance, if your health insurance plan has a $2,000 deductible, you generally pay the first $2,000 of covered services yourself. However, ACA plans cover specific preventive services before meeting the deductible. Some plans might have separate deductibles for healthcare and prescription drugs, along with copays for doctor visits before reaching the deductible.

What is a High-Deductible Health Plan?

A high-deductible health plan (HDHP) features relatively low monthly premiums in exchange for a high deductible. For 2024, the IRS defines an HDHP with a deductible of at least $1,600 for individuals and $3,200 for families. The maximum out-of-pocket limit for 2024 Marketplace self-only plans is $9,450. HDHPs must include a health savings account (HSA), allowing pre-tax contributions for qualified healthcare expenses.

Which Type of Health Insurance Is Least Expensive?

Blue Cross Blue Shield (excluding Anthem) is deemed the best value plan, while Kaiser Permanente offers the cheapest Bronze plans. However, the cost of your health insurance plan is determined by the coverage you select for yourself or your family.

What Qualifies as a Life Event for Special Enrollment?

Life events that qualify you for special enrollment on the Health Insurance Marketplace may include a change of residence, birth or adoption of a child, marriage, or loss of health coverage. Certain events, such as marriage or having a baby, might also qualify you for a special enrollment period for your employer’s health plan.

How We Selected the Best Affordable Health Insurance Companies for families

Our process involved analyzing business and market insight databases for families, examining health insurance company market share, and researching user-generated data from Google to discern public interest and trends in health insurance companies and plans.

We gathered data from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent organization rating healthcare plans based on quality and patient satisfaction. Additionally, data were collected from state and federal government insurance marketplace websites, company websites, media contacts, and existing partnerships.

We developed a quantitative model that scored each health insurance provider based on 27 criteria categorized into four major categories essential for evaluating the company’s offerings and benefits. The categories were weighted as follows:

– Plan Quality & Customer Satisfaction: 10%
– Plan Features: 30%
– Cost: 45%
– Availability: 15%

For a comprehensive understanding of our methodology for reviewing health insurance companies, please refer to our full methodology.

Amy Danise

Amy Danise is the managing editor for Sufn.info and Forbes Advisor's insurance section, covering auto, home, renters, life, pet, travel, health, and small business insurance. With over 30 years in the insurance sector, she specializes in simplifying complex insurance topics into actionable information. Amy collaborates with her team to translate insurance jargon into clear language for consumers, helping them understand insurance costs and find top-rated companies. Leveraging her extensive industry contacts, she develops Forbes Advisor's insurance content and analyzes state regulatory filings for insights. Amy's expertise has earned her features in major news outlets like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She holds a Bachelor's degree in American Studies from Wesleyan University.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *