Compare Health Insurance Quotes and Plans (2024)

Comparing health insurance quotes helps you find the right health plan for your budget. Here’s how to compare quotes, choose a plan, and reduce costs.

A.M. Steinbach
Written byA.M. Steinbach
A.M. Steinbach
A.M. SteinbachInsurance Writer
  • Full-time writer for 5+ years

  • Two-time Emmy Award nominee

A Harvard graduate, Mark has worked as a freelance personal finance and tech writer. He’s also written for Saturday Night Live.

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Katie Powers
Edited byKatie Powers
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Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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Updated March 9, 2023 at 11:00 AM PST

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Finding affordable health insurance helps you purchase the care you need without exceeding your budget. Several factors affect health insurance costs, so comparing health insurance quotes online can help you make informed decisions about your health plan.

Here’s what you need to know about comparing quotes, looking for a healthcare plan, and using simple strategies to reduce health insurance premiums.

Quick Facts
  • Americans pay $7,911 per year on average for health insurance coverage.[1]

  • Deductibles and monthly premiums vary from plan to plan.

  • Decide between an HMO or PPO and pay attention to specific exclusions.

Do I Need Health Insurance Coverage?

Do I Need Health Insurance Coverage?

What is health insurance?

Health insurance covers a portion of a policyholder’s medical care costs. The plan you enroll in determines how much your health insurance covers. Employers often provide healthcare to employees, though Americans can also access healthcare benefits through the ACA marketplace or through state marketplaces.

Health insurance can protect you financially if you have a major medical emergency or illness. A strong healthcare plan with robust coverage can also provide routine care for annual physicals and more, which keep you healthy and prevent major illness. Health insurance coverage may include other important health benefits, such as dental care, mental health services, and vision care.

How does health insurance work?

Medical care can be very expensive, and it’s hard to predict when you might need it. Insurance companies collect monthly premiums to control for this unpredictability and reduce costs for enrollees. The premiums you pay may cover the medical expenses related to experiencing illness or injury.[2]

When is Health Insurance Open Enrollment?

When is Health Insurance Open Enrollment?

How to compare health insurance quotes

Whether you receive a health plan from your employer or are looking for a plan on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, online quote comparison helps you find the right plan at the right price. Here’s how to compare health insurance quotes in five steps:

1. Gather key documents

You’ll need to compile key documents before you can get health insurance quotes. Find your insurance card if you already have an insurance plan. This card contains your member ID number, group number, and plan type. If you have multiple plans, gather all your insurance cards before starting the process. You’ll also need to provide key demographic information, including your ZIP code, income, number of people in your household, and more.

2. Access your healthcare marketplace 

Visit healthcare.gov/see-plans to find insurance quotes on the ACA marketplace. Enter your ZIP code, which will either direct you to your state’s specific marketplace website or show you plans directly on the ACA website. If you’re comparing plans provided by your employer, you may have a portal where you can access health insurance quotes online.

3. Decide on your ideal deductible

Assess your financial situation and decide if you’d prefer high monthly premiums and a low deductible or low monthly premiums and a high deductible. The deductible is the amount you pay for covered care costs before your coverage kicks in. You’ll see plans organized in four categories that explain how costs are shared with your health insurance company: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.[3]

What Is a Health Insurance Deductible?

What Is a Health Insurance Deductible?

4. Add up the total costs 

Note the other out-of-pocket costs associated with each plan, such as copays and co-insurance. These payments aren’t included in your premium and deductible, but they do factor into the total cost of a healthcare plan. You should also consider the plan’s out-of-pocket maximum, which is the maximum amount you can pay out of pocket in a given coverage period before your medical coverage kicks in.[4] 

5. Keep track of exclusions

The ACA marketplace will also note exclusions from each plan that you can consider. You should also see if the plan covers out-of-network medical expenses. For more information on a given plan, contact an insurance agent or access the plan’s summary of benefits and coverage, which outlines coverage in detail.[5] 

How much does health insurance cost?

The ACA marketplace splits health plans into bronze, silver, gold, and platinum categories. These are the average monthly costs of plans from the three most common metal tier categories:[6]

  • Bronze: $342

  • Silver: $448

  • Gold: $472

Gold and platinum plans come with higher monthly premiums and lower deductibles, which results in fewer out-of-pocket expenses when you do need care. A bronze plan has a high deductible and a lower premium, making it a good option if you don’t need prescription medications or expect to visit the doctor often in a given coverage period.

“Factors that determine health insurance premiums depend on the type of plan,” says financial expert Laura Adams. “For instance, ACA-qualified coverage can only rate policyholders based on their location, age, family size, and tobacco use. They can’t use your health, medical history, or gender to price policies.”

Good to know

Employer-sponsored health insurance can vary widely depending on the type of plan and coverage levels an employer offers. Medical confidentiality rules prevent employers from sharing an employee’s health status or medical history with insurance companies.

What are the different types of health insurance plans?

You have a few options when it comes to the type of health insurance plan you enroll in. Each type of plan operates with different rules for accessing out-of-network care. The average monthly costs listed below were calculated using yearly data from the Kaiser Family Foundation 2022 Employer Health Benefits Survey.[1]

  • A health maintenance organization (HMO) plan covers care from doctors who work for or contract with an HMO — a type of insurance group with a network of doctors, healthcare providers, and hospitals. An HMO plan typically won’t cover out-of-network care, except in emergency situations. This type of plan costs $663 per month on average.

  • A preferred provider organization (PPO) plan offers lower costs for care from doctors or hospitals in your network. If you want to access care outside your network, you’ll pay an additional cost but won’t need a referral. On average, this plan type costs $689 per month.

  • A point of service (POS) plan offers lower costs for care from doctors or hospitals in your network. You must get a referral to see an out-of-network specialist. Policyholders pay an average of $651 per month.

  • An exclusive provider organization (EPO) plan only covers services from doctors, specialists, and hospitals within the plan’s network, except in the event of an emergency. EPOs are much less common than PPOs and HMOs, so reliable information on the average cost of this plan type is unavailable.

How Are Health Insurance Premiums Calculated?

How Are Health Insurance Premiums Calculated?

How to compare health insurance plans

Different medical insurance plans offer different coverages, allow different out-of-network care, and come with different costs. Consider these factors when comparing health insurance plans:

  • Coverage: Plans differ in terms of provided coverages. For example, some cover prescription drugs, while others don’t. Look for mental health, vision, and dental coverage in your summary of benefits, as some plans don’t include them.

  • Provider networks: Policyholders can only access covered care from a specific network of providers and healthcare systems. Some plans might cover care from an out-of-network provider in emergency situations or if you receive a referral from your primary care doctor.

  • Premiums: Your monthly premium comprises the largest portion of your healthcare costs. These costs recur regularly and vary based on your plan’s deductible.

  • Deductibles: Your deductible determines how much you can expect to pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in. Some policyholders set a higher deductible to lower monthly premiums.

  • Copays and co-insurance: These other out-of-pocket costs vary from plan to plan.

  • Out-of-pocket maximums: This number refers to the maximum amount you can pay in a given coverage period, including deductibles, copays, and co-insurance. After you reach this maximum, insurance will cover all subsequent care in that coverage period.

How to reduce the cost of health insurance premiums

Health coverage costs can add up quickly, but here are some simple strategies that can help you reduce your health insurance premiums:

  • Look into ACA subsidies. Policyholders with annual income below a certain level can qualify for premium tax credits and other cost savings through the ACA marketplace.

  • Raise your deductible. If you raise your deductible, your monthly premiums will be lower. Choose a bronze plan on the ACA marketplace if you want lower monthly premiums but a higher deductible.

  • Pair your health savings account (HSA). An HSA is a special savings account where you can set aside money for medical expenses on a pre-tax basis. If you pair your HSA with a high-deductible healthcare plan, you’ll lower your premiums and pay your deductible with tax-free money out of your HSA.

  • Choose an HMO. An HMO tends to have lower monthly premiums compared to a PPO. Your health coverage will be limited to providers who work for or contract with your HMO.

Health insurance quotes FAQs

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about health insurance quotes.

  • What is the cheapest health insurance plan?

    HMO plans tend to be cheaper than PPO plans, though they offer less freedom to visit out-of-network providers.

  • What are the best health insurance companies?

    The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent nonprofit that evaluates health insurance companies, awarded the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan a 5-star rating in its 2022 Health Plan Ratings.[7] Blue Cross Blue Shield has also received high marks from the NCQA in previous rankings. The best insurer for you depends on your healthcare needs and life situation.

  • What is open enrollment?

    Open enrollment refers to an enrollment period once a year, from the beginning of November to the middle of January, when anyone can enroll in an ACA healthcare plan. Certain qualifying life events — such as marriage or the birth of a baby — enable you to enroll in a new plan outside the annual open enrollment period.

  • Will ACA subsidies affect health insurance premiums?

    ACA subsidies, including the premium tax credit, lower health insurance premiums for people whose household income level falls between 100% and 250% of the United States federal poverty level.

  • Should you choose a PPO instead of an HMO?

    A PPO plan offers more flexibility with the providers you can visit, though they can be more expensive. If you prefer a cheaper alternative and don’t mind staying in your network, an HMO may be the best plan for you.

Sources

  1. Kaiser Family Foundation. "2022 Employer Health Benefits Survey." Accessed February 22, 2023
  2. Stanford Vaden Health Services. "How U.S. Health Insurance Works." Accessed February 23, 2023
  3. HealthCare.gov. "The health plan categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold & Platinum." Accessed February 22, 2023
  4. HealthCare.gov. "Your total costs for health care: Premium, deductible & out-of-pocket costs." Accessed February 23, 2023
  5. NAIC. "Using Your Health Plan." Accessed February 23, 2023
  6. Kaiser Family Foundation. "Average Marketplace Premiums by Metal Tier, 2018-2023." Accessed February 23, 2023
  7. NCQA Unveils 2022 Health Plan Ratings. "National Committee for Quality Assurance." Accessed February 23, 2023
A.M. Steinbach
A.M. SteinbachInsurance Writer

A.M. is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and content marketing strategist who's worked with major brands in insurance, tech, finance, and healthcare. He also contributes to The Average Joe, a personal finance newsletter that reaches over 250,000 daily readers. Since 2019, he's written for Insurify, breaking down a diverse range of insurance topics into crisp, readable prose.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

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