The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) put consumers back in control of their healthcare and extended insurance coverage to many people who previously were unable to afford it. In 2009, about 15.7% of the U.S. population had no medical insurance coverage. That number dropped to an all-time low of 9.1%. More than 20 million people who previously had no health coverage were enrolled in a health plan since the inception of the ACA.
If you’re someone who hasn’t had health insurance before or who hasn’t had to purchase your own health insurance before, then shopping around for the right plan can be a bit confusing. There are more factors to consider than just the monthly cost. When you obtain health insurance quotes, be sure to compare insurance companies, plans, deductibles, premiums and coverage. Start your research with this overview of some of the top health insurance companies in 2016 to help you get started on your search for health coverage.
Find the Top Health Insurance Plans
Everyone has different health care needs, which means that there is no “best” plan for everyone. Instead, you have to evaluate different health care plans to see which one fully suits your needs. With that said, several companies are known for having solid reputations in terms of the products they offer and the level of customer service they provide. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all health insurance companies provide services in all states.
List of Health Insurance Companies
Choosing an ideal health insurance company for everyone’s needs is impossible. For that reason, the health insurance companies in this list aren’t ranked. These health insurance companies are among the top because of the products they have to offer, the service they provide, their prices for premiums and the number of people they serve. Additionally, each company’s reputation and experience in the industry is taken into account. You should buy health insurance from the company that can meet your needs and provide quality service while remaining within your budget in regards to both premiums and deductibles. If you’re in the market for health insurance, consider one of these top companies for 2016.
Fidelis Care is one of the largest government program-based health insurance providers in the state of New York. The company currently serves more than 1 million adults and children within the state. With a network of over 67,000 healthcare providers, you have access to doctors, specialists and hospitals throughout the state. Because it’s a state-sponsored program, you can find lower premiums than with other private insurance providers. It also provides no-cost and low-cost insurance through Medicaid, Medicare and other similar programs.
Assurant Health has provided reliable health insurance for over 100 years. In 2014, Forbes listed it among the 50 Most Trustworthy Companies. While premiums tend to be higher with Assurant Health, its products and services tend to be better than those of other companies. Assurant Health’s online quoting system makes it easy to get a quick quote and evaluate plans based on your needs and budget. It even offers international plans and short-term plans if you’re between jobs or waiting for employer benefits to take effect. Assurant Health is a top choice for individuals, students, senior citizens, employees and families.
CIGNA has a reputation that dates back over 30 years and exists in 12 states. Despite only being offered to residents in a handful of states, you can use this coverage worldwide. The company also has a feature-packed website that makes it easy for you to manage your account, learn about health and wellness and even keep track of your prescriptions. With a large prescription database right on the site, you can check medications to see if they’re covered in your policy before heading to the pharmacy. CIGNA has a network of over 500,000 doctors and 8,000 hospitals, making it easy to find in-network healthcare providers.
Humana isn’t only one of the better-known insurance companies in the country; it’s also one of the largest. You can choose between several affordable HMOs, PPOs and other plans for individuals, business owners and military personnel. If you’re on a fixed income, you can find low-cost health care plans to suit your needs, too. Likewise, the company offers supplemental insurance and Medicare Advantage plans.
Molina Healthcare offers low-cost health insurance to residents in 10 states and Puerto Rico. Products and services are targeted toward financially vulnerable families and individuals who qualify for government-sponsored programs in these locations. The large network of Molina Healthcare doctors and hospitals gives you access to quality comprehensive care with little or no out-of-pocket costs.
Aetna’s history as a health insurance company dates back to 1853, when it provided coverage to the residents of Connecticut. Today, residents in all 50 states can get a variety of coverage options from Aetna. One of the company’s biggest draws is that it offers highly customizable plans to suit your needs and your budget. You can pick and choose the features you want, such as the deductible amount. You can also bundle other healthcare services, such as dental and vision, with your health insurance plan for convenient coverage all in one place. You have the freedom to choose your own provider in a network of over 587,000 doctors and 5,700 hospitals.
Kaiser Permanente offers coverage to residents in eight states in the western United States and Washington, D.C. This insurance company has its own system of doctors, hospitals and providers that you must utilize for your health care needs. Kaiser Permanente doctors don’t refer you outside of the network, even for specialists. Because the insurance company has its own network, it’s able to offer some of the lowest rates for health insurance out of all other companies.
UnitedHealthcare offers nationwide coverage for over 70 million Americans. The company offers a wide range of products for individuals, families and businesses, including Medicaid coverage for low-income families and Medicare coverage for senior citizens. UnitedHealthcare shines with its online presence. Its online features include tracking your plan’s status, accessing your prescription information and managing all of your wellness issues electronically. UnitedHealthcare is a top choice if you prefer to manage your accounts online.
Anthem Health is part of the BlueCross BlueShield association of insurance companies. Anthem operates under a variety of names depending on the region that you live in. It’s one of the largest and most well-known insurance companies in the U.S., and unlike many other insurance companies, Anthem offers disability coverage. Additionally, you can find plans as low as $100 per month, though premiums that low often come with high deductibles.
BlueCross BlueShield is a network of 37 local and independently operated insurance companies throughout the U.S. Because of its size, BlueCross BlueShield offers an extensive number of plans to its customers. This also means that the plans you can purchase vary depending on the region you live in. BlueCross BlueShield has a large network of doctors, specialists and hospitals, making it easy to find a provider that accepts this insurance. The company’s website makes it easy to compare plans and find the right one for your needs and your budget.
Search by State
As stated above, health insurance companies vary by region or state. Not all insurance companies are available in all areas, so it’s critical to start your search based on your location. Once you identify which options are available in your area, you can begin comparing rates, products, services and reviews to find a plan that works well for your needs. Take a look at the top providers in the states below to get a better idea about how some of the companies listed above rank in different regions of the country.
Health Insurance in Florida
Health Insurance in California
- Anthem Blue Cross
- Blue Shield of California
- Kaiser Permanente of California
Health Insurance in Texas
- BlueCross BlueShield of Texas
Health Insurance in Colorado
- Anthem BlueCross BlueShield
- Kaiser Permanente of Colorado
- Rocky Mountain Health Plans
How to Find Cheap Health Insurance
Finding affordable health insurance doesn’t have to be a difficult process. You don’t have to go to individual insurance company websites to compare rates, though that is one way to go about it. Many websites make it easy to compare insurance plans and rates from a variety of carriers all in one place.
eHealthInsurance is a private online marketplace for health insurance. It has more than 13,000 plans from over 180 carriers for you to compare. As of 2013, it also enrolls customers into plans approved by the Affordable Care Act. People in all 50 states, and Washington, D.C., can compare rates and shop for and purchase insurance through the website.
Healthcare.gov is the health insurance exchange website operated by the federal government. It’s active in 36 states, with the remaining states operating their own insurance exchange websites. At Healthcare.gov, you can sign up for Medicaid if you qualify or compare rates for private insurance. The website also has a separate website for small businesses to browse plans. In addition to the website, you can also find cheap insurance through this exchange by phone, in person or by mailing a paper application.
Types of Health Insurance Plans
When you shop for cheap health insurance, take the time to browse all of the available plans. Some have higher premiums but offer many more services. Others may have low monthly premiums but require higher out-of-pocket costs. Consider the types of healthcare plans available and choose the one that makes sense for you.
The table below describes and compares the main types of health insurance plans so you can decide which one meets your healthcare needs.
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In addition to the types of plans, health insurance is divided into four different metal tiers under the ACA. Each tier covers a certain percentage of your healthcare costs. The lower the percentage, the lower the premiums, in most cases. The four metal tiers are as follows:
- Bronze – 60%
- Silver – 70%
- Gold – 80%
- Platinum – 90%
These major medical plans have entirely different coverage requirements than short-term health insurance. Short-term, temporary health insurance plans provide coverage for periods less than one year. These plans don’t meet the minimum guidelines for the ACA, leaving you open to any penalties under the law. Coverage kicks in quickly, but if you have this type of insurance you must file your own claims.
No-cost Health Insurance
No-cost and low cost health insurance is available for certain individuals and families. These are in the forms of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), though the programs may go by a different name depending on your state. People who qualify for no or low cost health insurance include:
- Individuals, family and children below a certain income level
- Pregnant women
- Elderly people
- People with disabilities
You can start the application process on Healthcare.gov to determine if you qualify for no-cost health insurance. If you do, the website forwards your information to the appropriate agency to finish the enrollment process. Alternatively, you can contact your local Medicaid agency to apply directly.
Private Health Insurance
Private health insurance refers to any insurance plan run by a private insurance company, and you’re responsible for all or part of the coverage. When shopping for private insurance on your own, you can choose from any provider or plan available in your area. If your employer pays for part of the coverage, then you’re limited to the provider and plans that your company offers. With private insurance, you can choose the medical benefits that you want on your plan and find coverage that meets your medical needs.
Group Health Insurance
If your employer provides health insurance as part of the benefits package for your job, this is known as group health insurance. This type may include individual or family health insurance, depending on the plans your employer chooses to offer. During the enrollment period, you can choose from several plans. Your employer may pay for part or all of your premium and deduct your portion from your paycheck each pay period.
Supplemental Health Insurance
Supplemental health insurance goes along with your major medical plan. With your primary health plan, you’re responsible for deductibles, co-pays and other associated expenses. Supplemental insurance is designed to help offset some of those costs. With these plans, you receive cash benefits to help recompense some costs associated with an illness or injury, such as loss of income, transportation to medical appointments and even everyday living expenses.
These plans don’t meet ACA minimum guidelines for coverage, so you’re still responsible for purchasing a major medical plan. Supplemental health insurance is available at an extra cost through some private health insurance companies.
Catastrophic Health Insurance
Catastrophic health insurance is coverage available to people under the ACA. This type of plan is only available if you’re under the age of 30 or qualify for a hardship exemption. As the name suggests, this health insurance provides coverage when you experience medical emergencies that can add up to thousands of dollars in medical bills, and it’s meant to protect you primarily in worst-case scenarios. With this type of plan, you pay lower monthly premiums. The drawback is that catastrophic insurance has a high deductible — about $6,850 as of 2016. This means that you’re required to pay for all medical expenses out of pocket until you reach that deductible.
This plan isn’t only for emergencies, though. Under the ACA, catastrophic health insurance also covers three primary care physician visits per year and preventative services, including some health screenings and immunizations.
Small Business Health Insurance
Small group health insurance is available for businesses that have between 1 and 100 employees. Under the ACA, businesses with more than 50 employees are required to offer health insurance to their workers. Employers with fewer than 25 employees with wages that are less than $50,000 per year per employee may be eligible to receive a special tax credit to help offset the costs of insurance premiums. Rates depend on the number of employees, their ages and the location of the business.
Self-employed health insurance is for you if own a business but don’t have any employees. If you’re self-employed and have one employee, then you can apply for small group health insurance. Freelancers, consultants, independent contractors and other self-employed individuals should look for individual health insurance plans.
How to Get Health Insurance
To get health insurance, you must enroll during the enrollment period with your employer, on Healthcare.gov or on the eHealthInsurance website. If the enrollment period has ended, you can only enroll for coverage because of a qualifying life event, such as marriage or the birth of a child. Otherwise, you should shop for interim or short-term health insurance coverage. These plans help cover health care costs until the open enrollment period.
Enter your personal information and answer a few questions about your life to begin shopping for health insurance. Compare the plans, including the health insurance deductible, premium and coverage, to decide which plan suits your needs. If you need assistance enrolling in an insurance plan, contact your employer, a health insurance agent or broker, your local Medicaid office or a local organization that specializes in assistance with the Health Insurance Marketplace.