Health Insurance

Best Cheap Health Insurance in North Carolina 2022

Best Cheap Health Insurance in North Carolina 2022

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The average cost of health insurance in North Carolina is $513 per month for a 40-year-old.

The cheapest Silver health insurance plan in North Carolina is Bright Health Silver 5000, which costs $437 a month for a 40-year-old in Greensboro. However, plan availability and costs vary by county. In 85% of the state's counties, the cheapest Silver plan is from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Cheapest health insurance by metal tier

To help you find the most affordable health insurance rates for your desired level of coverage, we compared the North Carolina policies offered in 2022 to determine the cheapest options for each coverage tier.

When we look across the state, Bright Health is the cheapest provider for Silver, Bronze Expanded and Catastrophic tier plans. On the other hand, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is the cheapest provider for Gold and Bronze tier plans. The cheapest plans listed below aren't available in every county in the state. However, we recommend using them as a starting point to determine the benefits and costs you can expect for a given tier of coverage.

Metal tier
Cheapest plan
Monthly cost
Deductible
Out-of-pocket maximum
CatastrophicBright Health Catastrophic 8700$216$8,700$8,700
BronzeBlue Local Bronze 8700$307$8,700$8,700
Bronze ExpandedBright Health Bronze 8700$300$8,700$8,700
SilverBright Health Silver 5000$437$5,000$8,700
GoldBlue Local Gold 2500$452$2,500$8,700

Within a metal tier, your actual health insurance premium will also vary according to the policy you choose, your age and the size of your family. As you can see below, a 40-year-old pays $138 more for a Silver health insurance plan than a 21-year-old. And a 60-year-old pays $712 more than a 40-year-old. That's more than double the price, showing how quickly rates can rise as you age.

Average cost of health insurance in North Carolina by metal tier

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Finding your best health insurance coverage in North Carolina

The best health insurance plan for you will depend on your income level, as well as your expected expenses.

North Carolina hasn't expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This means Medicaid eligibility is currently limited to those whose income falls below the federal poverty level.

If your income is greater than this limit, your best health insurance options will be on the North Carolina health insurance marketplace. The marketplace also offers reduced rates on health insurance for those with low or moderate incomes who qualify for tax subsidies.

North Carolina health insurance plans are broken into tiers that represent different levels of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

The best health insurance plan for you will balance the monthly cost of the plan with the out-of-pocket costs you may need to pay for medical care. Higher-tier plans typically cost more, but have lower deductibles, copays and coinsurance. This means you'll be responsible for a smaller proportion of medical costs. With a lower-tier plan, you'll pay less each month, but you'll pay more for your medical care.

Gold plans: best for people with high expected medical costs

Gold plans are typically the best health insurance option if you expect to have large medical expenses.Though these policies have higher premiums, they also have lower out-of-pocket expenses, which means you'll have to pay less for each visit to a health care provider. When choosing the best Gold health insurance plan, make sure to also consider the cost for routine prescriptions.

Silver plans: best for people with average medical costs or low incomes

Silver plans are typically recommended as a balance between moderate premiums and out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles and copay. Silver plans have better benefits than Bronze and Catastrophic plans, making them a good choice for those with typical medical needs. Silver plans are also a good middle-ground option for shoppers who can't easily afford the higher cost of a Gold plan, but still want good coverage.

For low-income households, a Silver health insurance plan may be the cheapest option because these policies are eligible for additional cost-sharing reductions (CSR). These are extra savings that can further reduce what you pay for medical care.

Bronze and Catastrophic plans: best for young, healthy people with low expected costs

Bronze and Catastrophic health insurance plans are the cheapest plans, but you may end up paying more for medical care because the out-of-pocket costs are much higher. Keep in mind that Catastrophic plans are only available if you're under 30 years old or meet certain exemptions. Bronze plans don't have the same restrictions.

We typically recommend considering these plans only if you're young and healthy and have emergency savings to cover out-of-pocket expenses in the event that you need medical care. For those with little savings or disposable income, paying more for a Silver plan may be the better choice because the plan's lower deductible can give you more protection from the upfront costs of large medical bills.

Short-term health insurance in North Carolina

In North Carolina, short-term health insurance is available for purchase through off-exchange health insurance companies. Short-term policies are typically thin, as they may not cover the same essential benefits as Obamacare marketplace plans. Furthermore, this type of policy often requires you to undergo medical underwriting to be approved for coverage.

North Carolina follows federal regulations for short-term insurance. These rules allow short-term health insurance plans to have coverage lengths of one year and to be renewable for up to 36 months.

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Best cheap health insurance companies in North Carolina

There are currently seven health insurance companies on the North Carolina exchange. Though each company offers a variety of policies, you may be limited in the range of options available depending on where you live. For example, residents in every county have access to plans from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, one of the biggest insurers in the state. However, Oscar is only available in the western counties and the Asheville region.

Insurer
Number of counties where available
Ambetter of North Carolina32
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina100
Bright Health Company of North Carolina33
Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina68
Friday Health Plans of North Carolina3
Oscar Health Plan of North Carolina10
UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina32

Cheapest health insurance plans by county

Where you live in North Carolina will determine the insurers and health insurance policies available. For example, someone living in Raleigh would find Blue Home Silver 6000 as their cheapest option for a Silver plan, while someone living in Fayetteville would have Ambetter Balanced Care 30.

To help you with your search, we found the cheapest Silver health insurance plans available in each county, as well as sample monthly premiums for different family sizes.

County
Cheapest Silver plan
Adult
Couple
Couple & child
AlamanceBright Health Silver 5000$437$873$1,135
AlexanderBlue Value Silver 6000$567$1,133$1,472
AlleghanyBlue Advantage Silver 6000$604$1,208$1,570
AnsonBlue Local Silver 6000$639$1,278$1,660
AsheBlue Advantage Silver 6000$604$1,208$1,570
Show All Rows

Costs are for 40-year-old adults and children under age 14.

Average cost of health insurance by family size in North Carolina

Families in North Carolina pay more for each additional person covered by the health insurance plan. As you can see below, the average cost to add a child to a Silver health plan in North Carolina is $379. This is much cheaper than the average cost to add an adult to a health insurance plan, which increases premiums by about $634.

Family size
Average cost
Adult + child$1,013
Couple$1,268
Family of three (couple + child)$1,647
Family of four (couple + two children)$2,027
Family of five (couple + three children)$2,406

Sample rates are based on the average cost for a Silver plan in North Carolina for 40-year old adults and children under age 14.

Health insurance rate changes in North Carolina

Premiums for health insurance policies are set by individual insurers in North Carolina. The proposed rates are sent to the health insurance marketplace for approval before being offered to residents.

The average cost of a health plan increased by 6% from 2021 to 2022 across all metal tiers. The largest price increases were for Silver and Bronze Expanded plan tiers, each increasing 8%. Catastrophic plans had the smallest price increases, at 2%.

Metal tier
2020
2021
2022
Change (2021 vs. 2022)
Catastrophic$277$284$2912%
Bronze$419$435$4565%
Bronze Expanded$438$448$4848%
Silver$585$588$6348%
Gold$641$663$6995%

Rates are based on a 40-year-old.

Frequently asked questions

What is the average cost of health insurance in North Carolina?

In 2022, the average cost of a Silver health plan in North Carolina is $634 per month for a 40-year-old. You may be able to lower your expenses through cost-sharing reductions or premium subsidies, both of which are based on income and family size.

Can I get health insurance for preexisting conditions in North Carolina?

Yes, North Carolina residents are covered for preexisting conditions when they purchase a health plan through the federal insurance marketplace. Insurance companies are not allowed to refuse coverage for your preexisting condition or charge you more for your care.

How do I get health insurance in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, you apply for coverage through the federal health insurance exchange at healthcare.gov. Seven insurance companies offer plans through the exchange, including HMO, PPO and point-of-service (POS) options. With HMO and POS plans, it is important to review plan documents to be sure your health care provider is covered.

Methodology

Policy details and premiums for this analysis were sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website. ValuePenguin used the CMS Public Use Files (PUF) in calculating the average rates in North Carolina by county, family size and metal tier. Plans and providers for which county-level data was included in the CMS Crosswalk file were used in our analysis; those excluded from this dataset may not appear.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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