Health Insurance

Best Cheap Health Insurance in South Carolina (2023)

Best Cheap Health Insurance in South Carolina (2023)

The average cost of health insurance in South Carolina is $469 per month for a Silver plan for a 40-year-old.

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Ambetter Virtual Access Silver is the cheapest Silver health insurance policy in most counties in South Carolina.

Cheapest health insurance by plan tier

We compared plans in South Carolina by plan tier to find the most affordable health insurance policy at various levels of coverage.

Lower-tier 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 if you had a higher-tier policy.

For example, for the Ambetter CMS Standard Bronze policy, the lowest monthly premium across the state for a 40-year-old is $291, which is $94 less than the monthly premium for the Ambetter Virtual Access Silver plan. However, the Bronze plan could mean paying $1,700 more in out-of-pocket costs in the form of deductibles, copays and coinsurance compared to the Ambetter Virtual Access Silver plan, depending on your plan usage.

Plan tier
Cheapest plan
Monthly cost
Out-of-pocket maximum
CatastrophicBlueEssentials Catastrophic 1$262$9,100$9,100
BronzeAmbetter CMS Standard Bronze$291$9,100$9,100
SilverAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$5,700$7,400
GoldAmbetter CMS Standard Gold$412$2,000$8,700

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 you get older, premiums increase across all metal tiers.

For example, a 60-year-old would pay $566 more every month, on average, for a Gold plan compared to a 40-year-old.

Average cost of health insurance in South Carolina by metal tier

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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, the cheapest Silver plan for a 40-year-old in Abbeville is $385 per month, whereas the cheapest Silver plan for a 40-year-old in Cherokee is $416 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 but offer much 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

The cheapest Gold plan in South Carolina is the Ambetter CMS Standard Gold. Compare all tiers in South Carolina above.

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.

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

The cheapest Silver plan in South Carolina is the Ambetter Virtual Access Silver. Compare all tiers in South Carolina above.

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.

Bronze and Catastrophic plans: Best for young, healthy people

The cheapest Bronze plan in South Carolina is the Ambetter CMS Standard Bronze. The cheapest Catastrophic plan is the BlueEssentials Catastrophic 1. Compare all tiers in South Carolina above.

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 buy a Catastrophic plan. Also, Catastrophic plans are not eligible for premium tax credits.

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.

Short-term health insurance in South Carolina

South Carolina residents do have the option to buy short-term health insurance plans. However, each plan can only last up to 11 months and can only be renewed for 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 qualified health insurance policies, short-term plans do not cover as many essential benefits.

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Health insurance companies in South Carolina

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

  • Ambetter from Absolute Total Care
  • BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
  • Cigna Healthcare of South Carolina
  • First Choice Next
  • Molina Healthcare

Only Ambetter and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina are available in every county, but residents have a lot more options than a few years ago, when the state marketplace offered only a single insurer.

Cheapest health insurance plan by county

We studied 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 Silver policy has the best rate for your county, as well as sample monthly premiums for a 40-year-old, a couple and a family of three.

County name
Cheapest plan
Age 40
Couple, age 40
Couple, age 40 and child
AbbevilleAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
AikenAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
AllendaleAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
AndersonAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
BambergAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
BarnwellAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
BeaufortAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
BerkeleyAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
CalhounAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
CharlestonAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
CherokeeConstant Care Silver 8$416$831$1,080
ChesterAmbetter Virtual Access Silver$385$770$1,000
Show All Rows

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 ages. 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 $1,219 in South Carolina. For each child, the average cost of a Silver health plan increases by $281, so a family of four with two 40-year-olds and two children would pay $1,499 per month on average.

Family size
Average cost
Individual and child$750
Couple, age 40$938
Family of three (adult couple and a child)$1,219
Family of four (adult couple and two children)$1,499
Family of five (adult couple and three children)$1,780

Adults are assumed to be 40 years old. Children are assumed to be 14 or younger. Sample rates are based on the average monthly 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 info to the exchange for approval. The average cost of a health plan for 2023 is 14% more expensive than it was for 2022.

Insurance premiums increased across each of the four tiers, but the severity of the change varied. The cost of the Bronze health plans increased by 26%, or $76 per month for a 40-year-old, during this time frame. The average price for Silver and Gold policies increased the least, at 8% each.

Plan tier
Change (2022 to 2023)

Monthly 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 plan tier, age, family size and county from cost data in the CMS public use files (PUFs). Plans and providers for which county-level data was included in the CMS Crosswalk file were used in our analysis; those excluded from this data set 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.