Health Insurance

Best Cheap Health Insurance in North Carolina 2020

Best Cheap Health Insurance in North Carolina 2020

Find Cheap Health Insurance Quotes in North Carolina

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Cheap health insurance policies in North Carolina can be purchased through the state's health insurance marketplace or through Medicaid if your household income is low enough to be eligible.

We compared all Silver plans in the North Carolina exchange and, in the majority of the state, either the Blue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network) or Blue Value Silver 7500 (limited network) was the best priced health insurance policy offered. Ambetter and Bright Health policies are less widely available than those from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, but they frequently offer the cheapest policies when on the exchange.

Cheapest health insurance by metal tier

The average rate for health insurance in North Carolina is $490 for 2020 year plans. This is $85 less expensive for an average 40-year-old, or a 15% decrease from 2018.

Average Monthly Cost of Health Insurance Plans by Metal Tier in North Carolina

Find Cheap Health Insurance Quotes in North Carolina

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To help you find the most affordable health insurance rates for your desired level of coverage, we compared North Carolina policies by metal tier to determine the cheapest options available. While these plans aren't available in every county in the state, we recommend using them as a starting point to determine the benefits and costs you can expect for a given tier of coverage.

Metal tierCheapest planDeductibleOut-of-pocket maximumMonthly cost for 40-year-old
CatastrophicCatastrophic 2$8,150$8,150$196
BronzeBlue Local Bronze 8150 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)$8,150$8,150$293
Expanded BronzeBlue Local Bronze 6900 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health, HSA eligible)$6,900$6,900$306
SilverSilver 4$4,700$8,150$405
GoldBlue Value Gold 3000 (limited network)$3,000$8,150$453

Higher metal tier plans, such as those in the Gold tier, typically come with lower deductibles and often have a lower out-of-pocket maximum expense. However, even the cheapest of these policies will have higher premiums than the lower level plans, so you should weigh the benefits against your actual rates when determining the best coverage. Silver plans are typically recommended as a balance between moderate premiums and out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles and copays, though the best policy for you may differ depending on your income and expected medical expenses.

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 will have health insurance rates that are 28% higher than the cost of the same metal tier policy for a 21-year-old. And a 60-year-old's health insurance premium will be 112% more expensive than the average cost for a 40-year-old.

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, so this option will be limited to those with income below the federal poverty level. If your income is greater than this limit, your best health insurance options will be on the North Carolina marketplace, and you may qualify for tax subsidies for coverage depending on your income.

North Carolina exchange health insurance plans are broken into metal tiers that represent different levels of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Higher metal tier plans typically have higher premiums but lower deductibles, copays and coinsurance, so you'll be responsible for a lower proportion of costs in the event you need to use your coverage. These plans, such as Gold plans, are recommended for those who have higher expected medical care needs. You should balance the cheap health insurance rates that come with lower-tier plans, such as Bronze and Catastrophic policies, with the out-of-pocket costs you may need to pay if you need medical care.

Gold plans: Best for people with high expected medical costs

Higher-coverage Gold plans are typically the best health insurance option if you expect to have large medical expenses, such as routine prescription needs. Though these policies have higher premiums, lower out-of-pocket expenses mean you'll have to pay less for each additional visit to a health care provider. When choosing the best Gold health insurance plan for yourself, make sure to consider the out-of-pocket expenses for prescriptions, as these typically have the highest routine use.

Silver plans: Best for average medical costs or people with low income

A Silver health insurance plan may be the cheapest option if you have a low household income, as these policies are eligible for additional cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies. Silver plans are also a good middle ground option for shoppers who expect to have some medical costs and can't easily afford the higher expenses of a Gold plan. These health insurance plans are cheaper but still have better benefits and lower out-of-pocket expenses than Bronze and Catastrophic plans.

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

Bronze and Catastrophic health insurance plans are the cheapest coverage options, but you may end up paying more if you have medical expenses, as the out-of-pocket costs are much higher. And Catastrophic plans are only available if you're under 30 or meet certain exemptions. You should carefully weigh your ability to cover an emergency medical cost before choosing one of these plans, because you'll need to meet a higher deductible before a policy's benefits will kick in.

So, if you have little savings or disposable income, a Silver plan may be the better choice, even though it comes with a higher monthly premium, unless you're confident you could meet a Bronze or Catastrophic plan's deductible. We typically recommend considering these health plans only if you're young and healthy and have emergency savings to cover the out-of-pocket expenses in the event you need medical care.

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 will often require you to undergo medical underwriting to be approved for coverage.

North Carolina currently does not restrict the length of short-term policies and follows federal regulations for these plans. These rules allow short-term health insurance plans to have coverage lengths of one year and be renewable for up to 36 months.

Find Cheap Health Insurance Quotes in North Carolina

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Best cheap health insurance companies in North Carolina

There are currently four health insurance companies on the North Carolina exchange, since Ambetter and Bright Health joined in the last year. Though each company offers a variety of policies, you may be limited in the range of options available depending on where you live—Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the only insurer available in every North Carolina county.

InsurerNumber of counties available
Ambetter of North Carolina Inc.14
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC100
Bright Health Company of North Carolina10
Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina Inc.5

Cheapest health insurance plan by county

Where you live in North Carolina will determine the insurers and health insurance policies available. To help you with your search, we've found the cheapest Silver health insurance plans available on the state exchange in each county. You can see the policy with the best rates, as well as sample monthly premiums for different family sizes, below.

CountyCheapest Silver planSingle adult, age 40Couple, age 40Couple, age 40, plus Child
AlamanceBlue Home Silver 7500 (local network with UNC Health Alliance)$437$874$1,136
AlexanderBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$579$1,158$1,504
AlleghanyBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
AnsonBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$428$855$1,111
AsheBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
AveryBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
BeaufortBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
BertieBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
BladenBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
BrunswickBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$585$1,169$1,519
BuncombeBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
BurkeBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$579$1,158$1,504
CabarrusSilver 4$405$811$1,054
CaldwellBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$579$1,158$1,504
CamdenBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
CarteretBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
CaswellBlue Home Silver 7500 (local network with UNC Health Alliance)$437$874$1,136
CatawbaBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$579$1,158$1,504
ChathamBlue Home Silver 7500 (local network with UNC Health Alliance)$437$874$1,136
CherokeeBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
ChowanBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
ClayBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
ClevelandBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$470$940$1,222
ColumbusBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$585$1,169$1,519
CravenBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
CumberlandBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
CurrituckBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
DareBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
DavidsonBlue Local Silver 7500 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)$463$926$1,203
DavieBlue Local Silver 7500 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)$463$926$1,203
DuplinBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$585$1,169$1,519
DurhamBlue Home Silver 7500 (local network with UNC Health Alliance)$437$874$1,136
EdgecombeBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$655$1,309$1,701
ForsythBlue Local Silver 7500 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)$463$926$1,203
FranklinAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$410$820$1,066
GastonSilver 4$405$811$1,054
GatesBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
GrahamBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
GranvilleAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$482$965$1,253
GreeneBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$655$1,309$1,701
GuilfordBlue Local Silver 7500 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)$440$879$1,143
HalifaxBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
HarnettBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
HaywoodBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
HendersonBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
HertfordBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
HokeBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
HydeBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
IredellBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$579$1,158$1,504
JacksonBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
JohnstonBlue Home Silver 7500 (local network with UNC Health Alliance)$437$874$1,136
JonesBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
LeeBlue Home Silver 7500 (local network with UNC Health Alliance)$437$874$1,136
LenoirBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
LincolnBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$470$940$1,222
MaconBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
MadisonBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
MartinBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
McdowellBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
MecklenburgSilver 4$405$811$1,054
MitchellBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
MontgomeryBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$701$1,403$1,822
MooreBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$701$1,403$1,822
NashCigna Connect 4500$522$1,044$1,356
New HanoverBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$585$1,169$1,519
NorthamptonBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
OnslowBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$585$1,169$1,519
OrangeBlue Home Silver 7500 (local network with UNC Health Alliance)$437$874$1,136
PamlicoBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
PasquotankBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
PenderBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$585$1,169$1,519
PerquimansBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
PersonBlue Home Silver 7500 (local network with UNC Health Alliance)$437$874$1,136
PittBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$655$1,309$1,701
PolkBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
RandolphBlue Local Silver 7500 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)$440$879$1,143
RichmondBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
RobesonBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
RockinghamAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$580$1,160$1,507
RowanSilver 4$405$811$1,054
RutherfordBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
SampsonBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
ScotlandBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
StanlyBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$428$855$1,111
StokesBlue Local Silver 7500 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)$463$926$1,203
SurryBlue Value Silver 7500 (limited network)$567$1,135$1,475
SwainBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
TransylvaniaBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718
TyrrellBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
UnionSilver 4$405$811$1,054
VanceAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$482$965$1,253
WakeAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$410$820$1,066
WarrenAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$482$965$1,253
WashingtonBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$675$1,349$1,753
WataugaBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$668$1,336$1,736
WayneBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$655$1,309$1,701
WilkesBlue Local Silver 7500 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)$468$936$1,216
WilsonBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$655$1,309$1,701
YadkinBlue Local Silver 7500 (local network with Wake Forest Baptist Health)$463$926$1,203
YanceyBlue Advantage Silver 7500 (broad network)$661$1,323$1,718

Average cost of health insurance by family size in North Carolina

Families in North Carolina will pay higher premiums for health insurance based upon the number of individuals covered and their age. Any children age 14 and below will qualify for cheaper health insurance rates that remain flat until the child turns 15, after which the rates increase with age.

As you can see below, the average cost to add a child to a Silver health plan in North Carolina is $350. This is much cheaper than the average cost to add an adult to a health insurance plan, which increases premiums by an average of $585.

Family sizeAverage monthly cost of health plan
Individual + child$936
Couple age 40$1,171
Family of three (Adult couple and a child)$1,521
Family of four (Adult couple and two children)$1,872
Family of five (Adult couple and three children)$2,222
Adults are assumed to be 40 years old. Sample rates are based on the average cost for a Silver plan in North Carolina.

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 decreased 15% over the past two years, to $490 per month for a 40-year-old on average. Catastrophic plans were the only tier of coverage to increase in price, rising 7% during this time.

Metal tier2018 Premium2020 Premium% Change
Expanded BronzeNot applicable$438Not applicable
Rates are based on a 40-year-old adult.


Policy details and premiums for this analysis were sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website. ValuePenguin use the CMS's Public Use Files (PUF) in calculating the average rates in North Carolina by county, family size and metal tier.

Sterling Price

Sterling Price is a research analyst at ValuePenguin specializing in health and life insurance. He graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelors degree in Finance and Accounting and has previous experience as a licensed life insurance representative.

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.