Best Affordable Health Insurance Plans for families

Kaiser Permanente is a great option for affordable health insurance for families through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. You can use HealthCare.gov to compare different health plans easily, looking at things like costs and deductibles. This is really helpful if you don’t have health insurance through work. We’ve done a detailed review of ACA plans to help you find the best and most affordable health insurance for you.

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

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On Healthcare Marketplace’s Website

Best Provider Network Blue Cross Blue Shield 5.0

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On Healthcare Marketplace’s Website

Best for Customer Satisfaction UnitedHealthcare 4.6

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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 collected information on things like customer complaints, how good the plans are, deductibles, what kinds of plans they offer, and the different levels of coverage. Our team is committed to giving fair ratings and info. We don’t let advertisers influence our editorial content. You can find more about how we rate plans and our guidelines below.

– We looked at the costs of 259 health insurance plans.
– We checked 84 different points about coverage and quality.
– Our editorial team has 102 years of experience in insurance.

Best Affordable Health Insurance Companies

Kaiser Permanente has the best prices for health insurance,

Blue Cross Blue Shield has the biggest network of providers, and

UnitedHealthcare is known for making customers happy.

Kaiser Permanente-Cheapest health insurance company

Rating: 5.0

Kaiser Permanente is our top pick for affordable health insurance. It’s got a good rating of 4.2 out of 5 from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). For a 40-year-old, the average cost for a basic plan is around $351 a month, and the deductible is about $6,700 a year.

Here’s why we like Kaiser Permanente:

– It gets the highest ratings for ACA plans among all the insurers we looked at.
– Kaiser Permanente has its own health system, which can make things smoother for you and keep your care consistent.
– It’s got the best quality rating from NCQA out of all the insurance companies we checked.
– Their bronze plans have the lowest deductibles on average compared to other big insurers.

Shortcomings:

This insurance company only works in eight states and Washington, D.C.

But, they get more complaints from customers than most other insurance companies.

Blue Cross Blue Shield- Best Provider Network

Rating: 5.0

Blue Cross Blue Shield is available all across the country, which is great because you can find doctors and hospitals pretty much anywhere you go. They’ve got over 1.7 million healthcare providers in their network, spread out over 33 different insurance companies. This means you can get care from providers in their network even when you’re traveling. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers three types of health plans and four different levels of coverage on the ACA marketplace.

Here are some reasons we like Blue Cross Blue Shield:

– Their silver plans have lower deductibles compared to what other companies offer.
– Since they’re available nationwide, you can count on having coverage wherever you are.
– They get good quality ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Shortcomings:

More people have complained to state insurance commissioners about this company compared to others in the industry.

Their prices for plans on the ACA marketplace are higher than the other companies we looked at.

Marketplace Health Plan Availability:

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

UnitedHealthcare: Best for customer satisfaction

Rating: 4.6

UnitedHealthcare is the only company we looked at that had fewer complaints to state insurance departments than the average. This might mean their customers are happier than customers of other companies. They also have higher ratings for their plans from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Here’s what else we like about UnitedHealthcare:

– They’ve got a huge network of healthcare providers all across the country, with 1.5 million providers and 7,000 hospitals and facilities.
– They offer three different levels of coverage on the ACA marketplace.
– You can also get other types of insurance from them, like dental, vision, accident, and critical illness plans.

Shortcomings:

Their prices are higher than some other companies.

They don’t offer as many choices for types of coverage or levels of coverage on the ACA marketplace as some other companies do.

How Can I Get Affordable Health Insurance?

There are a few ways to find affordable health insurance:

1. Through Work: Many people get health insurance from their job, which often has good rates.

2. Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace: HealthCare.gov lets you look for health insurance plans that follow the ACA rules. You might get a good deal, especially if you qualify for help paying.

3. Family Plans: Some jobs let you add your spouse and kids to your health insurance, which can be cheaper than getting separate plans for each person.

4. Medicaid: This is a program for people with low incomes. It offers good coverage at low costs. Whether you qualify depends on how much money your household makes.

5. Short-Term Plans: These plans are available in most states and are cheaper. But they often don’t cover as much, like certain medicines or pre-existing conditions.

How Much Does Health Insurance Cost?

On the Affordable Care Act marketplace, the average monthly cost for a bronze health insurance plan varies based on age. For example, it’s around $373 for a 30-year-old, $420 for a 40-year-old, $587 for a 50-year-old, and $890 for a 60-year-old.

Silver plans, which are the next step up in terms of coverage, cost a bit more. On average, they’re about $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 prices don’t include any subsidies or tax credits you might qualify for, which can make your overall costs much lower. Only ACA plans are eligible for these credits, and they’re available to people with household incomes below a certain level.

Age plays a big role in how much you’ll pay for 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.

In the ACA marketplace, how much you pay for health insurance can vary depending on several factors:

– The insurance company you select.
– The level of coverage you want, such as bronze, silver, gold, or platinum.
– The type of plan you prefer, such as HMO or PPO.
– Your age.
– Additional expenses like deductibles and coinsurance.
– Whether you smoke or not.

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)

“Take Advantage of Subsidies

When you’re getting a plan from the ACA marketplace, subsidies can make a big difference in how much you pay each month. They’re based on your yearly income. If you’re not 65 yet and you’re retired, look for ways to keep your taxable income low so you can qualify for subsidies.”

Les Masterson (Insurance Editor):

“Compare Quotes
When you’re buying a health plan from the ACA marketplace, it’s smart to check out quotes from different companies. You can do this right on the marketplace website. Just make sure you’re comparing plans that are in the same metal tier so you can see which one suits you best.”

Jason Metz (Insurance Lead Editor):

“Consider HMO or EPO Plans

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly health plan, think about choosing a health maintenance organization (HMO) or exclusive provider organization (EPO) plan. These plans usually have lower costs, but you’ll need to use doctors and hospitals in their network. They’re a good option if you don’t mind sticking to specific healthcare providers.”

Factors to Consider When Seeking Affordable Health Insurance

“When looking for affordable health insurance, think about your family’s healthcare needs now and in the future. Consider things like if you’re planning to have more kids, if you need regular prescriptions, or if you might have surgery, like fixing a bad knee.

This can help you decide if a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) is right for you. HDHPs usually have lower monthly costs, but you’ll pay more out of pocket when you need medical care.”

Premiums:

The health insurance premium is what you pay to keep your insurance coverage. It’s a big part of how much you spend on health insurance overall.

Deductibles:

Deductibles affect how much you pay for health insurance and for your healthcare. You have to pay your deductible before your insurance starts covering your medical expenses.

Coinsurance:

Coinsurance is the portion of your healthcare costs that you have to pay after you’ve met your deductible. If your coinsurance is higher, it means you’ll have to pay more out of your own pocket when you get medical care.

Metal Tiers:

ACA plans come in four categories known as “metal” tiers: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Bronze and silver plans usually have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs, while gold and platinum plans have higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs.

Premium Tax Credits:

If you have an ACA plan, you might be eligible for premium tax credits, which depend on your household income. Depending on how much you earn, these credits can lead to significant savings on your ACA plan every year.

Provider Network:

Most health plans come with a network of doctors and healthcare providers. If you stick to these in-network providers, your costs are usually lower than if you go to doctors outside the network.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum:

The out-of-pocket maximum is the most you’ll have to pay for healthcare in a year. It includes deductibles, copays, and coinsurance for in-network services. Once you reach this limit, your health insurance covers 100% of your in-network costs for the rest of the year.

Methodology

To find the best and most affordable health insurance companies, we looked at several key factors across seven major providers:

1. Complaints to State Insurance Departments (30% of score): We checked data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to see how often people complained about each insurer and what those complaints were about.

2. Plan Ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (30% of score):This independent nonprofit organization rated each insurer based on things like patient experience, prevention, treatment, and overall health plan quality.

3. Average Silver Plan Deductible (20% of score): We considered how much people have to pay out of pocket before their health insurance starts covering costs. Lower deductibles got higher scores.

4. Breadth of Health Plans (10% of score): We looked at the different types of plans each company offered, like PPO, HMO, EPO, and POS options.

5. Metal Tier Offerings (10% of score): We also checked how many metal tier levels each company offered in the ACA marketplace.

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?

After studying seven health insurance companies, Kaiser Permanente stands out as the most budget-friendly option.

Our research shows that Kaiser Permanente consistently offers the lowest rates for home insurance across different ages and metal tiers on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. For example, a 40-year-old person pays an average of $351 per month for an unsubsidized Bronze plan with Kaiser Permanente, while the same plan costs $378 with Aetna and $392 with Oscar.

Is Affordable Health Insurance Available Year-Round?

Usually, you can only change or get a new health insurance plan once a year during what’s called the “open enrollment period.” It’s typically from November 1 to January 15, but some states have longer periods.

However, if something major happens in your life, like losing your health coverage, getting married, or having a baby, you can make changes outside of the open enrollment period. These events trigger what’s called a “special enrollment period,” giving you a chance to adjust your health coverage.

Is It Possible to Negotiate Health Insurance Costs?

Typically, you can’t negotiate the cost of health insurance itself. But your insurance company might offer different plans that could save you money.

For instance, they might suggest a bronze plan with lower costs, advise choosing a higher deductible, or recommend a more limited plan like an HMO. These options often have lower monthly payments compared to plans with more coverage.

Best Affordable Health Insurance Companies for families

Blue Cross Blue Shield is our top pick for affordable health insurance. It stands out for offering the lowest overall costs and excellent value, especially with its Silver plans. Plus, it provides a wide range of options and consistently earns high-quality ratings. Another advantage is its extensive provider network, making it easy to find healthcare services.

When you’re looking for affordable health insurance, don’t just focus on the premium. Consider factors like deductibles and copays, especially if you anticipate needing more than just basic medical care.

In our evaluation of the best affordable health insurance companies, we examined 40 different criteria across nine major providers. These criteria included cost, plan benefits, availability, customer satisfaction, types of plans offered, availability of ACA metal level plans, and dental coverage.

To assess the quality of plans and customer satisfaction, we relied on annual star ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This organization evaluates health plans based on factors like the quality of care, patient satisfaction, and efforts to improve health plan performance.

FAQ:Affordable Health Insurance Companies for families

How Much Does Health Insurance Cost?

Bronze plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace are some of the cheapest options you can find (except for Catastrophic coverage). How much you pay depends on things like where you live, how old you are, what plan you pick, and whether you smoke. The total cost includes what you pay each month (premium), what you have to cover before your insurance kicks in (deductible), what you pay each time you see the doctor or get medicine (copays), and a percentage you pay after you’ve met your deductible (coinsurance). There’s also a limit on how much you have to pay out of your own pocket before your insurance pays for everything‚ÄĒthis is called the out-of-pocket maximum.

What is the Premium Tax Credit?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought in something called the advance premium tax credit to help lower the cost of health insurance on the Marketplace. Whether you can get this credit depends on where you live, how big your family is, and how much money you make after some adjustments. You’ll find out if you qualify for this credit when you sign up for a Marketplace plan.

What is a Deductible in Health Insurance?

A deductible is what you have to pay each year before your insurance kicks in to help with your medical bills. For example, if your plan has a $2,000 deductible, you’ll have to pay that much out of your own pocket before your insurance starts paying for things. But, with ACA plans, there are some services, like check-ups and screenings, that are covered even before you meet your deductible. Sometimes, plans have different deductibles for medical care and prescriptions, and you might have to pay a copay to see the doctor before you hit your deductible.

What is a High-Deductible Health Plan?

A high-deductible health plan (HDHP) is a type of health insurance where you pay less each month but have to pay more out of your own pocket when you need medical care. In 2024, according to the IRS, an HDHP for individuals has to have a deductible of at least $1,600, and for families, it’s at least $3,200. There’s also a limit on how much you have to pay out of your own pocket each year, which is $9,450 for self-only plans in 2024. HDHPs come with a health savings account (HSA), where you can put money aside before taxes to pay for medical expenses.

Which Type of Health Insurance Is Least Expensive?

When it comes to finding a good deal on health insurance, many people think Blue Cross Blue Shield (except for Anthem) is the best option. But if you’re looking for the cheapest Bronze plans, Kaiser Permanente might be your go-to. Remember, though, the cost of your health insurance depends on what kind of coverage you choose for yourself and your family.

What Qualifies as a Life Event for Special Enrollment?

Certain life events can let you sign up for health insurance outside of the usual enrollment periods on the Health Insurance Marketplace. These events might include moving to a new place, having or adopting a baby, getting married, or losing your health coverage. Sometimes, like when you get married or have a baby, you might also get a chance to sign up for your employer’s health insurance outside of their usual enrollment time.

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.

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