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 30 was the cheapest Silver health insurance policy in most counties.
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 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 Ambetter Essential Care 1 policy, the lowest monthly premium across the state for a 40-year-old is $247, which is roughly $70 less than the monthly premium for the Ambetter Balanced Care 30 Silver Plan. However, the Bronze plan could mean paying $2,500 more out-of-pocket costs in the form of deductibles, copays and coinsurance compared to the Ambetter Balanced Care 30, depending on your plan usage.
|Catastrophic||BlueEssentials Catastrophic 1||$215||$8,700||$8,700|
|Bronze||Ambetter Essential Care 1||$247||$8,600||$8,600|
|Bronze Expanded||Ambetter Essential Care 10||$260||$7,200||$8,400|
|Silver||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$6,100||$6,100|
|Gold||Ambetter Secure Care 5||$379||$1,450||$6,300|
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 $521 more every month, on average, for a Gold plan compared to a 40-year-old.
Find Cheap Health Insurance Quotes in Your Area
Finding your best health insurance coverage in South Carolina
The best health insurance plans in South Carolina vary by county. For example, the cheapest Silver plan for a 40-year-old in Abbeville is $317 per month, whereas the cheapest Silver plan for a 40-year-old in Oconee is $514 per month. 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 Ambetter Secure Care 5. 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 30. 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.
Expanded 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 Ambetter Essential Care 1. The cheapest Catastrophic plan is BlueEssentials Catastrophic 1. Compare all tiers in South Carolina above.
Short-term health insurance in South Carolina
South Carolina residents do have the option to purchase short-term health insurance plans. However, each plan can only last up to 11 months, and can only be renewed up to a total of 33 months.
A short-term health policy could be an option if you miss the open enrollment period or lose the health insurance plan from your employer. Compared to private health insurance policies, short-term plans do not cover as many essential benefits.
Find Cheap Health Insurance Quotes in South Carolina
Health insurance companies in South Carolina
There are 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 a few 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 a 40-year-old, a couple and family of three.
Couple, age 40
Couple, age 40 & child
|Abbeville||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
|Aiken||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
|Allendale||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
|Anderson||Silver 5000 ($0 Telehealth + $0 Primary Care + $0 Mental Health + $0 Prescription List)||$381||$763||$991|
|Bamberg||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
|Barnwell||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
|Beaufort||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
|Berkeley||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
|Calhoun||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
|Charleston||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
|Cherokee||Silver 5000 ($0 Telehealth + $0 Primary Care + $0 Mental Health + $0 Prescription List)||$381||$763||$991|
|Chester||Ambetter Balanced Care 30||$317||$634||$824|
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 $1,133 in South Carolina. For each additional child, the average cost of a Silver health plan increases by $261, so a family of four with two 40-year-olds and two children would pay $1,394 per month on average.
|Individual + Child||$697|
|Couple Age 40||$872|
|Family of three (Adult couple and a child)||$1,133|
|Family of four (Adult couple and two children)||$1,394|
|Family of five (Adult couple and three children)||$1,655|
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.
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 14% cheaper than it was for 2021 plans.
Insurance premiums lowered across each of the four plans but the severity of the change varied by plan. The cost of the Catastrophic health plans decreased by 4%, or $10 per month for a 40-year-old, during this time frame. On the other hand, the average price for a Bronze policy dropped 17%, the largest decrease overall.
2022 vs. 2021
Premiums are for 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). 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.