Individual health insurance is a coverage option for those who aren’t eligible for government-run health insurance programs or don’t have access to an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Costs for individual health insurance vary greatly depending on several factors, including your budget, your needs, your current state of health, and whatever ailments you might expect to encounter throughout the year.
Each individual health insurance plan has benefits and drawbacks. There is no plan that’s considered to be the best – finding the best, most affordable option depends on what you personally need from your health insurance plan. Comparing the pros and cons of various plan types can help you decide the best fit for you.
Health Plan Categories
Health plans fall into four categories based on how the costs are split between you and the insurance provider. These categories don’t speak to the quality of care provided. All categories include preventative care.
Health plans in the bronze category have the lowest monthly premium, but you’ll pay the highest costs when you need care. Deductibles in the bronze category can cost thousands per year. Bronze plans are ideal for those looking for a way to protect themselves from worst-case scenarios.
The monthly premium and costs in the silver category are moderate, and the deductibles are generally lower than those in the bronze category. Plans in the silver category may offer cost-sharing savings for those who qualify, which could save you hundreds to thousands of dollars per year. Silver plans are ideal for those who qualify for extra savings. Otherwise, you could end up paying higher monthly premiums than bronze.
Health plans in the gold category have high monthly premiums, but when you need care, the costs are low. Deductibles for plans in the gold category are also typically low. Gold plans are ideal for those who require a somewhat high level of care and are willing to pay a little more each month for better coverage when treatment is needed.
Plans in the platinum category have the highest monthly premiums but the lowest costs when care is required. Deductibles are also the lowest of all categories. Plans in the platinum category are ideal for those who need a high level of care.
Additional Factors to Consider
In addition to the category types above, additional factors impact the cost of individual health insurance plans. Consider the following and how they may affect your health insurance options:
- Lifestyle factors such as tobacco use
- Household family size
- Income bracket
- The insurance company and plan type
- How many people require coverage