Health Insurance

Best Cheap Health Insurance in South Carolina 2020

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South Carolinians can go to their state exchange to find affordable health insurance, but the best plans available depend on the coverage you choose to fit your budget and needs.

We analyzed all health insurance plans in South Carolina and found that the BlueEssentials Silver 14 or Constant Care Silver 2 were the cheapest Silver health insurance policies, depending on the county. Although these are frequently the cheapest options, depending on your budget and coverage needs, there may be a better option for you.

Cheapest health insurance by metal tier

The average health insurance premium in South Carolina is $501 per month for a 40-year-old. This is 2% cheaper than premiums in 2018, or about $11 less per month on average.

We compared plans in South Carolina by metal tier to find the most affordable health insurance policy at the different levels of coverage. The table below can help you start comparing the costs and benefits you can expect from a plan in that tier.

For example, for the Core Care Bronze 2 policy, the lowest monthly premium across the state for a 40-year-old is $316, which is roughly $56 less than the minimum monthly premium for the Ambetter Balanced Care 12. However, the Bronze plan would mean paying higher out-of-pocket costs in the form of deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

Metal tierCheapest planDeductibleOut-of-pocket maximumMonthly cost for a 40-year-old
CatastrophicBlueEssentials Catastrophic 1$8,150$8,150$202
BronzeCore Care Bronze 2$8,000$8,150$316
Expanded BronzeBlueEssentials Bronze 4$6,400$8,150$319
SilverAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$6,500$8,150$372
GoldConfident Care Gold 1$2,925$6,000$461

The monthly health insurance premium is largely based on coverage tier and the ages of those covered by the plan. A higher metal tier would mean paying lower out-of-pocket costs but higher monthly premiums. On the other hand, as the policyholder gets older, premiums across all metal tiers increase.

For example, a 60-year-old would pay $633 more every month, on average, for a Gold plan compared to a 40-year-old. But if that same 60-year-old has a Silver plan, they would only pay $616 more per month on average.

Average monthly cost of health insurance plans by metal tier in South Carolina

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Finding your best health insurance coverage in South Carolina

The best cheap health insurance plans in South Carolina for you vary by county. For example, 40-year-old policyholders typically pay $420 per month for the Constant Care Silver 2 plan in Charleston County, but the same policyholders pay $471 per month in Barnwell County. No matter where you live, you can choose a plan that offers coverage to fit your lifestyle.

Higher metal tier health plans, like Gold policies, have monthly premiums that are typically more expensive than Silver policies, but offer significantly lower out-of-pocket expenses, like deductibles, copays and coinsurance. This means if you have high recurring medical costs or you think you may become sick, a higher metal tier plan may be the best option for you.

On the other hand, if you are young, healthy and have no expected medical costs — and would prefer a lower monthly premium — a lower metal tier policy may be the best choice for you.

Gold plans: Best for high expected medical costs

If you use or expect to use your insurance often, Gold plans typically come with the lowest costs because they offer lower deductibles and copays. However, the monthly premium you can expect to pay for a Gold plan will generally be higher. Ultimately, these health plans are best if you have high expected medical costs or you don't want to pay out of pocket for an unexpected condition.

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

Silver plans have higher monthly premiums than Bronze and Catastrophic plans but lower premiums than Gold plans. With a Silver plan, you may also qualify for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies, which would further lower your out-of-pocket expenses. Typical Silver plans cover about 70% of your health care costs while you pay 30%. But with CSR subsidies, you could qualify for a Silver plan that covers up to 94% of your health care costs.

Bronze and Catastrophic plans: Best for young, healthy people

Catastrophic and Bronze plans offer lower monthly premiums compared to Silver and Gold plans. However, you must be under 30 or qualify for an exemption to purchase a Catastrophic plan. Bronze plans are open to everyone and offer lower monthly premiums than higher metal tier plans. However, you'll pay more out of pocket for health care before coverage kicks in. We wouldn't recommend these policies unless you can afford the higher deductibles, copays and coinsurance in the case of a medical emergency.

Extended Bronze plans are a new plan tier that was introduced this year. This tier extends a typical Bronze plan, which covers about 60% of your health care costs, to cover up to about 65% of your costs.

Best cheap health insurance companies in South Carolina

There are currently four health insurance companies on the South Carolina state exchange:

  • Absolute Total Care Inc.
  • BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
  • Bright Health Company of South Carolina
  • Molina Healthcare of South Carolina Inc.

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is the only insurer available in every county, but residents have significantly more options than two years ago, when only a single insurer was offered on the state marketplace. There are now only 14 counties in which BCBS is the only insurer offering health plans to residents.

Cheapest health insurance plan by county

We analyzed the most affordable Silver health insurance policies available on the state exchange by county to help you get started on your search for the best health insurance plan in South Carolina. Below, you can see which policy has the best rate for your county, as well as sample monthly premiums for an individual, couple and family of three.

CountyCheapest Silver planSingle adult, age 40Couple, age 40Couple, age 40, and child
AbbevilleBlueEssentials Silver 14$496$991$1,288
AikenConstant Care Silver 2$478$956$1,242
AllendaleConstant Care Silver 2$437$874$1,136
AndersonSilver 1$559$1,117$1,452
BambergConstant Care Silver 2$446$891$1,158
BarnwellConstant Care Silver 2$471$942$1,224
BeaufortAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$500$1,000$1,299
BerkeleyAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$486$972$1,263
CalhounConstant Care Silver 2$439$878$1,141
CharlestonConstant Care Silver 2$420$840$1,092
CherokeeBlueEssentials Silver 14$543$1,086$1,411
ChesterAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$508$1,017$1,321
ChesterfieldBlueEssentials Silver 14$520$1,040$1,352
ClarendonBlueEssentials Silver 14$503$1,007$1,308
ColletonConstant Care Silver 2$421$842$1,094
DarlingtonBlueEssentials Silver 14$540$1,081$1,404
DillonBlueEssentials Silver 14$567$1,134$1,473
DorchesterAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$486$972$1,263
EdgefieldConstant Care Silver 2$467$934$1,213
FairfieldConstant Care Silver 2$493$986$1,281
FlorenceAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$372$744$967
GeorgetownBlueEssentials Silver 14$495$990$1,286
GreenvilleSilver 1$491$982$1,276
GreenwoodBlueEssentials Silver 14$516$1,033$1,342
HamptonBlueEssentials Silver 14$498$996$1,294
HorryAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$472$943$1,226
JasperBlueEssentials Silver 14$475$950$1,234
KershawConstant Care Silver 2$515$1,029$1,337
LancasterAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$508$1,017$1,321
LaurensBlueEssentials Silver 14$533$1,065$1,384
LeeBlueEssentials Silver 14$546$1,092$1,419
LexingtonBlueEssentials Silver 14$582$1,163$1,511
MarionAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$372$744$967
MarlboroBlueEssentials Silver 14$559$1,118$1,452
McCormickConstant Care Silver 2$452$905$1,176
NewberryBlueEssentials Silver 14$516$1,033$1,342
OconeeBlueEssentials Silver 14$516$1,033$1,342
OrangeburgConstant Care Silver 2$432$865$1,124
PickensSilver 1$529$1,059$1,376
RichlandBlueEssentials Silver 14$572$1,143$1,486
SaludaConstant Care Silver 2$465$930$1,208
SpartanburgBlueEssentials Silver 14$507$1,015$1,318
SumterBlueEssentials Silver 14$548$1,096$1,423
UnionBlueEssentials Silver 14$510$1,019$1,325
WilliamsburgConstant Care Silver 2$520$1,040$1,352
YorkAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2020)$508$1,017$1,321

Average cost of health insurance by family size in South Carolina

The size of your family will influence the cost of your monthly premium based on the number of people who need coverage and their age. The cost of coverage is the same for all children 14 and younger. However, once a child turns 15 years old, the monthly health plan premium will increase as they get older.

For example, the average cost of health insurance for a family of three, assuming two 40-year-old parents and a child, is $1,425 in South Carolina. For each additional child, the average cost of a Silver health plan increases by $328, so a family of four, assuming two 40-year-olds and two children, would pay $1,753 per month on average.

Family sizeAverage monthly cost of health plan
Individual + child$877
Couple age 40$1,097
Family of three (adult couple and a child)$1,425
Family of four (adult couple and two children)$1,753
Family of five (adult couple and three children)$2,081
Adults are assumed to be 40 years old. Sample rates are based on the average cost for a Silver plan in South Carolina.

Health insurance rate changes in South Carolina

Individual health companies in South Carolina determine their policy prices and send the information to the exchange for approval. The average cost of a health plan this year is 2% cheaper than it was for 2018 plans, but whether typical rates increased or decreased varied significantly by metal tier of coverage.

The cost of Silver health plans increased by 4%, or $21 per month for a 40-year-old, during this time frame. On the other hand, the average price for a Catastrophic policy dropped 13%, the largest decrease overall.

Metal tier2018 premium2020 premium% change
Expanded Bronze$384$372-3.21%
Rates are based on a 40-year-old adult.


The health insurance rates and plan information used in this analysis were pulled from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website. ValuePenguin then calculated the average rates in South Carolina by metal tier, family size and county from cost data in the CMS Public Use Files (PUF).

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.