Health Insurance

Best Cheap Health Insurance in South Carolina 2021

Best Cheap Health Insurance in South Carolina 2021

The average health insurance premium in South Carolina is $463 per month for a 40-year-old. This is nearly 8% cheaper than premiums in 2020, or about $38 less per month on average.

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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 Ambetter Balanced Care 29 (2021) or Constant Care Silver 4 were the cheapest Silver health insurance policies in most counties. These plans are frequently the cheapest option, but depending on your budget and coverage needs, there may be a better option for you.

Cheapest health insurance by metal tier

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

Lower-tiered policies, like Bronze, have the most affordable premium rates. However, in exchange for this low monthly cost, you will be paying more out-of-pocket than higher tiered policies.

For example, for the Core Care Bronze 2 policy, the lowest monthly premium across the state for a 40-year-old is $285, which is roughly $106 less than the monthly premium for the Ambetter Balanced Care 29 (2021). However, the Bronze plan would mean paying $2,050 more out-of-pocket costs in the form of deductibles, copays and coinsurance than Ambetter Balanced Care 29 (2021).

Metal tier
Cheapest plan
Maximum out-of-pocket
Monthly cost for a 40-year-old
CatastrophicBlueEssentials Catastrophic 1$8,550$8,550$201
BronzeCore Care Bronze 2$8,000$8,550$285
Expanded BronzeCore Care Bronze 5$0$8,550$292
SilverAmbetter Balanced Care 29 (2021)$5,450$8,400$391
GoldConfident Care Gold 1$2,925$6,500$440
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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 increase across all metal tiers.

For example, a 60-year-old would pay $609 more every month, on average, for a Gold plan compared to a 40-year-old. But if that 60-year-old has a Silver plan, they would only pay $585 more per month on average.

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Finding your best health insurance coverage in South Carolina

The best health insurance plans in South Carolina vary by county. For example, 40-year-old policyholders typically pay $423 per month for the Constant Care Silver 4 plan in Charleston County, but they’ll pay $406 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.

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.

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 don't want to pay out of pocket for an unexpected condition.

The cheapest Gold plan in South Carolina is the Confident Care Gold 1. Compare all tiers in South Carolina above.

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.

Silver plans typically cover about 70% of your health care costs, leaving you to pay 30%. But with CSR subsidies, you could qualify for a Silver plan that covers up to 94% of your health care costs.

The cheapest Silver plan in South Carolina is the Ambetter Balanced Care 29 (2021). Compare all tiers in South Carolina above.

Bronze and Catastrophic plans: Best for young, healthy people

Bronze and Catastrophic 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 in 2020. 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.

The cheapest Bronze plan in South Carolina is the Core Care Bronze 2. The cheapest Catastrophic plan is BlueEssentials Catastrophic 1. Compare all tiers in South Carolina above.

Health insurance companies in South Carolina

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

  • Ambetter from 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 years ago, when the state marketplace offered only a single insurer.

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.

Cheapest Silver plan
Single adult, age 40
Couple, age 40
Couple, age 40, and child
AbbevilleAmbetter Balanced Care 29 (2021)$391$781$1,015
AikenConstant Care Silver 4$417$833$1,082
AllendaleConstant Care Silver 4$397$793$1,031
AndersonSilver 5000$546$1,092$1,418
BambergAmbetter Balanced Care 29 (2021)$400$799$1,038
BarnwellConstant Care Silver 4$406$812$1,055
BeaufortAmbetter Balanced Care 29 (2021)$507$1,014$1,318
BerkeleyConstant Care Silver 4$417$835$1,084
CalhounAmbetter Balanced Care 29 (2021)$400$799$1,038
CharlestonConstant Care Silver 4$423$846$1,099
CherokeeSilver 5000$538$1,075$1,397
ChesterAmbetter Balanced Care 29 (2021)$516$1,032$1,341
Show All Rows
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Average cost of health insurance by family size in South Carolina

The size of your family will determine 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 children who are 14 and younger. 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 with two 40-year-old parents and a child is $1,352 in South Carolina. For each additional child, the average cost of a Silver health plan increases by $311, so a family of four with two 40-year-olds and two children would pay $1,663 per month on average.

Family size
Average monthly cost of health plan
Individual + Child$832
Couple Age 40$1,040
Family of three (Adult couple and a child)$1,352
Family of four (Adult couple and two children)$1,663
Family of five (Adult couple and three children)$1,975

Adults are assumed to be 40 years old. Children are assumed to be 14 or younger. Sample rates are based on the average cost for a Silver plan in South Carolina.

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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 8% cheaper than it was for 2020 plans.

Insurance premiums lowered across each four plans but the severity of the change varied by plan. The cost of the Catastrophic health plans decreased by less than 1%, or $1 per month for a 40-year-old, during this time frame. On the other hand, the average price for a Bronze policy dropped 11%, the largest decrease overall.

Metal tier
2020 Premium
2021 Premium
% Change
Expanded Bronze$372$367-1.31%

Premiums are for a 40-year-old adult.

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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.